The Namibian Conservation Agriculture Project (NCAP 2) was recently established and currently there are 27 private rip furrowing service providers and nearly all of them have started land preparation. Most of the tractor owners are Kongalend Financial Services clients while some are Agribank clients. Creative Entrepreneurial Solutions is holding the mobilisation meetings together with the lead farmers and the Cooperative League of the United States of America (CLUSA) in Namibia is responsible for training and mentoring tractor drivers and coordinating land preparation services, as well as conducting quality control of rip furrow services across the 57 northern constituencies where NCAP 2 operates.
The interest in Conservation Agriculture (CA) is extraordinarily high this year, most probably because of the current drought and severe food insecurity situation. Many farmers witnessed positive developments in CA fields during the 2014/2015 season despite low and erratic rainfall and are now looking to switch to CA. Farmers who have already tested rip furrowing or hand-hoe basins, crop rotations and soil cover (either crop residue retention or green soil cover) are in the majority of cases planning to put their entire crop fields under CA.
Kongalend, together with its CA technical partners in the Namibia Conservation Agriculture Projoect (NCAP), has taken the initiative to form the NCAP 2 consortium to consolidate and continue work done on the ground. The new consortium will respond resourcefully to the call from farmers to expand the outreach of NCAP to more subsistence farmers wishing to acquire skills through practical training and on-field support and mentoring to improve their yields.
The NCAP 2 consortium brings together a broad spectrum of expertise, from tailor-made training in climate-smart agriculture methods, the training and mentoring of tractor drivers and draught animal owners. The training of entrepreneurs in agribusiness management, including access to the agribusiness microloans provided by Kongalend to acquire the equipments, implements and inputs also form part of the consortium’s mandate.
Farmers brought together through NCAP have requested continued training in climate-smart agriculture methods, expansion of the number of lead farmers and the building on the foundations of a sustainable service system for rip furrow land preparation. The NCAP 2 consortium also intends to address seed shortage by working with farmers on seed multiplication, encouraging them and other agribusiness entrepreneurs to become seed suppliers and distributors by partnering with seed multipliers to buy seed in bulk for distribution to the local market.
NCAP, in its initial phase, ran for three years and was implemented in 57 constituencies across the seven crop producing regions of northern Namibia. NCAP’s implementation was founded on the Farmer Field School methodology, whereby lead farmers are trained in CA methods, thereby empowering them to pass on skills to up to 25 of their neighbours. NCAP lead farmers teach the three linked principles of CA, namely: minimum soil disturbance; permanent organic soil cover; and crop rotation.
Kongalend’s intervention to provide tailor-made finance through its Lima Power loan to subsistence farmers practicing CA, is deeply rooted in its understanding of the importance of developing communities, capacitating them to produce food for themselves. Kongalend also believes that conservation agriculture, when implemented correctly, is a powerful tool with which to fight poverty,” Ndandi explains. Its combination with a well-crafted affordable microfinance loan product provides a solid weapon to address some of the challenges faced by smallholder farmers leading to improvement of the livelihoods of subsistence farming communities. Kongalend’s involvement is thus driven by its clear conviction that once subsistence farmers become food secure they will also be in a position to use their surplus yields to generate income for their families.
Kongalend’s first funding leg to NCAP consisted of 22 customers, who acquired 4×4 tractors and rippers at a cost of N$8.2 million in November 2014, which resulted in a number of lead farmers being truly capacitated. They were equipped with the tools they needed to productively till their own fields, as well as provide income-generating ripping services to fellow farmers within their respective constituencies and regions. This intervention also ensured that tractors were readily available to provide timely ripping services, in tune with the rhythms of the agricultural calendar.
Kongalend’s Lima Power loan, launched in 2013, remains available, and Kongalend continues to mobilise development capital to benefit more farmers wishing to transform from subsistence farming to sustainable income-generating agribusiness.