Training for Small-Scale Farmers

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By Wezi Tjaronda WINDHOEK The first intake of small-scale irrigation farmers at the Mashare Agricultural Development Institute starts its training course in September this year. An advert in the local media calling on prospective small-scale farmers to apply for the 11-month course has thus far generated a lot of interest. The first intake will include 30 candidates from the whole country. Ten of them will be from the ranks of youth, another 10 will be residents of the Kavango Region, with the remainder coming from all over the country. Deputy Director: Agricultural Training in the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry, Johanna Andowa told New Era recently that they will initially take in 40 candidates, from which 30 will continue with the intensive training course that will cover a number of fields including introduction to the green scheme, administration, human resource management, financial management and marketing, farm management for crops and horticulture, irrigation, technical management and practical workshop. She said the trainees will first embark on an orientation course for the trainers to determine who are the serious minded farmers. By the time the trainees complete their course, it will be in time for them to start with production at Ndonga Linena, Shadi Kongoro, Vungu Vungu and Etunda in the Kavango and Otjozondjupa regions. Fifty-two places are available at the moment at these irrigation schemes for small-scale farmers to start production of cereals and horticulture products. The training programme will start with 30 trainees only because the ministry wants to start small, said Andowa, who promised that the second intake will double. The course, which will go into details of farming, has been described as tough due to the fact that the ministry wants the endeavour to be a success. Said Andowa: “Yes, it is a tough course. But if we are serious, we have to do it this way.” The deputy director added that the course is planned in such a way that the trainees will not have anyone to blame if they fail to be productive on their piece of land. The Green Scheme, a project of the ministry plans to develop 26 000 hectares of irrigation land along the perennial rivers of Namibia, namely the Orange, Okavango, Zambezi, Kwando and Kunene in the next 15 years. The scheme is seen as the country’s blueprint to improve and increase food productivity to a point where the country will be self-sustaining. This will also help increase exports and decrease imports especially of consumables, 90 percent of which are sourced from neighbouring South Africa. A consultant at the Green Scheme Agency, which was established as a result of the Green Scheme policy, said everything else awaits the training because the ministry has decided to train people first before farmers can embark on farming. The 30 small-scale farmers will be accommodated and trained at the newly renovated institute that has 30 units of two bedrooms each. It has laundry facilities, lecture and entertainment halls. Andowa said the ministry will also put up facilities where the trainees will cook food of their choice. The trainees will be provided with food rations and a small allowance for their upkeep.