Invest in healthy soils…

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The twentieth anniversary of World Day to Combat Desertification will be held tomorrow at the Okashana Rural development Centre under the slogan “No such thing as a free lunch. Invest in healthy soils.”

The World Day to Combat Desertification has been observed since 1995 to promote international cooperation and combat the effects of desertification and drought. Its purpose is to promote public awareness of the issue, and to encourage the implementation of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification in countries experiencing serious drought and/or desertification, particularly in Africa.

Since then, country Parties to the Convention (including Namibia) have celebrated this particular day with a series of outreach activities nationwide. The World Day to Combat Desertification is a unique occasion to remind everybody that desertification can be effectively tackled, that solutions are possible, and that key tools to accomplish this lay in strengthened community participation and co-operation at all levels.

The 2015 World Day to Combat Desertification theme focuses on two main goals: `attainment of food security for all through sustainable food systems’ (Goal 2 and Goal 15). The aim is to advocate for the recognition and strengthening of the link between these goals in post-2015 processes. Hunger is most prevalent in the developing country dry-land areas where water retention is poor, and the land is highly vulnerable to natural and human destructions.

With the theme and slogan the day is calling for:

(1) A change in our land use practices through smart agriculture and adaptation to changing climate, especially in the dry fragile parts of the world where food shortages are becoming more and more severe,

(2) Access to technology and land rights for smallholder farmers, especially the poorest households, who simultaneously safeguard the environment and meet the food needs of millions of households,

(3) A balance in the land use for ecology and consumption, drawing on the best practices,

(4) More investments in sustainable land practices so that sustainable food systems become the normal practice and,

(5) More effective action on desertification, the effects of which on security, peace and stability are invisible yet real for the affected countries due especially to food and water scarcity and environmentally forced migration.

The goal of the World Day observance is to send a strong message to the general public and decision makers that eradicating hunger and poverty is closely tied to the realisation of land-degradation neutrality.

The 2015 WDCD is an opportunity for Namibia to look at Conservation Agriculture (CA) as a model for community adaptation. The method has been developed since 2005 by the CONTILL project, a collaboration between the Namibian National Farmers Union (NNFU), Namibia Agronomic Board (NAB), Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry (MAWF) and Namibia Resource Consultants (NRC). CA is now being promoted through the Namibia Conservation Agriculture (NCAP) and the Resilient Agriculture Interventions in Namibia (RAIN) projects funded by the USAID Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance and implemented by the National Cooperative Business Association CLUSA International (NCBA CLUSA) and local implementing partners Creative Entrepreneurs Solutions (CES) and the NNFU. The projects are targeting more than 12,000 subsistence farmers with CA trainings. Kongalend Financial Services are providing loans to farmers and entrepreneurs in order to purchase 4×4 tractors and ripper implements for the provision of CA land preparation services to farmers.

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