Farmers Key to Cheetah’s Survival

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By Surihe Gaomas

WINDHOEK

Since the majority of the country’s cheetahs are found in the north-central commercial farmlands, livestock farmers there literally hold the survival of these wild animals in their hands, because the cheetah mainly preys on livestock.

This is the view with which Director of the Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF) Dr Laurie Marker encouraged cattle farmers to look at cheetah conservation, at the opening of a financial farm management course for emerging commercial farmers near Otjiwarango last month.

“Namibia being an arid environment is suitable for extensive beef production.

In addition, over 70 percent of the country’s wildlife lives on these farmlands.

This overlap of ranched animals and wildlife requires an integrated approach to this management to assure maximum productivity and sustainability on both components,” said Marker. Cheetah conservation is therefore much more about the cheetah, but also about biodiversity conservation, where human beings and wildlife live in harmony with each other for a sustainable future.

Good management practices of both livestock and wildlife as well as greater financial benefits constitute the ongoing education for emerging commercial farmers in maintaining sustainable farming practices.

It is against this background that CCF, together with the Agricultural Bank of Namibia (Agribank), held the financial course for emerging farmers on Friday August 24.

The overall objective of the course was to equip close to 30 emerging and established farmers with insight and understanding of farming finances and enable them to complete their own financial business plans.

“Good farmers have always been conservationists working with nature to ensure sustainability. Conservation involves land, animal stewardship and wise business practices. Through this course farmers learnt to embrace the concept of conservation through collaboration and the sharing of natural resources in addition to profiting from their livestock,” explained Marker.

The training course was the latest addition to the CCF’s farmer development programme which complements the existing integrated livestock and predator management and practical farming training courses.

Officially opening the training course, Chief Executive Officer of Agribank Leonard Iipumbu said the latest course was aimed at enhancing the farmer’s capacity building for effective financial management of the country’s natural resources.

“Continuous training is the key driver … with an objective to improve productivity in order to add value to rural products,” said Iipumbu.

This year, Agribank contributed an amount of N$70 000 to the consortium, while the total pledge was for more than N$400 000. As part of its three-year turnaround strategy, the agricultural bank is in the process of implementing several projects in fulfilling its mandate as an agricultural and rural developmental financing institution.

Iipumbu said that while the bank will continually provide its financial products and services to its clients, farmers need to be more proactive.

“You, the farmers are the catalysts in support of realising our mandate of reviving and sustaining economic growth, creating employment opportunities and alleviating poverty,” he said.

The specialised training courses hosted by CCF are aimed at various stakeholders, including conservation biologists, wildlife managers and environmental educators, towards integrated livestock and predator management and practical training.

Last year over 300 farmers participated in 12 one-week training courses.

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