By Francis Tsawayo WINDHOEK The Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF) and Agra have signed a co-operation agreement to present a joint pilot training initiative for farm workers. The (CCF) is co-ordinating and presenting the course that kicked off on Monday and is set to close tomorrow. Agra would be coming on board to assist with funding and provision of material. According to Dr Laurie Marker, Director of the Cheetah Conservation Fund, the week-long course is aimed at creating a better understanding of and an insight into livestock farming systems and their interaction with nature, and will thereby add value to the farming enterprise and benefit the farmer and livestock holders in Namibia. The content of the first training effort includes herd management, animal husbandry; pasture management, animal nutrition, the farmivetnary cupboard, prevention and control of veld fires, parasite control, predator and livestock loss prevention, animal health, the livestock vaccination programme as well as selection of, raising and training livestock guarding dogs. The training course is practical, including many practical presentations and demonstrations with extensive use of visual material so that one needs not to be able to write but should have a good command of English or Afrikaans, she informed. The CFF welcomed the interest of and joint venture with a local business. Describing the partnership as a great match, Marker highlighted the link between conservation and economic goals saying, “While farming may be considered mainly an economic activity, if applied properly conservation plays an important role in managing resources to achieve not only conservation goals but economic ones as well. It is possible to protect our wildlife and still run the farm profitably.” Agra recognises that contributing to developing Namibia’s expertise is an important initiative to help manage the natural resources and available farmland productively as well as effectively, said Birgit Hoffman, Agra’s Senior Manager: Marketing. Describing the agreement as setting the tone for a long-term partnership, she also highlighted the importance of such an agreement to the nation. She said if workers have a better understanding of the farming system, they are able to assist the farmer proactively for improved output. It is important to manage farms and farmland for long-term sustainability, integrating commercial farming motives with conservation issues, she added. The three legs of agricultural sustainability are economic viability, social acceptance and environmental soundness. Once the farm worker understands the basic concepts of nature and livestock farming, he/she will not only become a more productive worker and increase the economic contribution but their esteem is also enhanced enabling them to share knowledge and experiences with farm owners for improved output, said Hoffman. As a responsible corporate citizen Agra is proud to make a contribution in this area, she said. Agra is the largest multipurpose agricultural co-operative in the country with about 7 000 Namibian shareholders. It was founded in 1980 and now the company employs over 400 people. Agra offers livestock marketing services and retail operations throughout the country.
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