CA Programme not strategy to mitigate drought – Nehemia

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Windhoek

The recently launched Comprehensive Conservation Agriculture (CA) Programme for Namibia of N$94 million was not implemented as a strategy to mitigate drought, rather, it is an ongoing programme of the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry (MAWF).

Explaining the difference between the Comprehensive CA Programme and the Dry Land Crop Production Programme (DCPP), acting permanent secretary of the MAWF, Abraham Nehemia, says the CA Programme is being implemented in all the crop growing regions of the country, namely, Kavango East and West, Zambezi Region, Oshikoto, Oshana, Ohangwena, Omusati and Kunene North, Omaheke and Otjozondjupa. The objectives of this programme are amongst others: to increase food production/ household
food security levels, increase the use of improved seeds, enhance knowledge on use of appropriate farming techniques in the Northern Communal Areas (NACs) and to increase dry land crop production per unit of land through appropriate intervention measures.

Through the DCPP, communal farmers receive subsidised inputs and services at rates shared between the farmers. With regards to inputs, the subsidy scheme offers improved seeds and fertilisers for a maximum of three (3) hectares per household. While for services, provision of ploughing and planting and services through private and government owned tractors are also provided, as well as weeding services for up to a maximum of three (3) hectares per household at subsidised rates.

“While the two programmes may seem similar, it is worth clarifying that the Conservation Agriculture programme was developed in order to intensify DCPP, this Conservation
Agriculture Component was added into the farming system as provided for in the NDP4,” Nehemia notes.
The main objective is to incorporate CA principles and practices into the DCPP, as a basis for sustainable crop production and improved food security at national and household level. The DCPP deals with food production at house hold level and should be seen as complimenting the existing agriculture practices of rural communities to produce food to feed their families, and also where there are surplus, communities can sell the surplus to generate income.

The Comprehensive Conservation Agriculture Programme for Namibia was launched this June by the Minister of Agriculture, Water and Forestry, John Mutorwa, and was followed by the National Conservation Agriculture Stakeholders’ Workshop held recently in Windhoek.
The CA is an agricultural approach to managing agroecosystems for improved and sustained productivity, increased profits and food security,
while preserving and enhancing the resource base and the environment. CA is characterised by three linked principles, namely: Continues minimum mechanical soil disturbance; permanent organic soil cover and the diversification of crop species grown in sequences and/or associations.

The overall objective of this programme is to counter and reverse land degradation and to adapt to climate change/variability through the adoption of CA as a basis for sustainable crop production and improved food security at both national and farm, including smallholder levels. The programme specifically aims to increase awareness and knowledge of CA among stakeholders, including farmers, extension workers, researchers and policy- and decision-makers; increase farmers’ and extension workers’ skills of practising CA; conduct farmer-focused research to develop appropriate CA technologies and packages for the farming systems; establish institutional arrangements for harmonised and coordinated implementation of the CA programme; ensure farmers have sustained access to CA equipment, inputs, markets and services; and develop standards and then monitor and evaluate adoption and impact of CA.

The programme seeks to address and apply all of the important aspects/principles of CA in a holistic manner and in such a way that farmers are encouraged to take up CA and benefit from it.
“While the DCPP, also referred to as the Rain-fed Agriculture Programme, is a government programme aimed at assisting communal farmers in the crop growing regions who depend on rainfall to produce food for household consumption and food self-sufficiency, this programme is by no means a new programme, in fact, its implementation commenced more than seven years ago, in 2008, and has been going strong for years now,” Nehemia concludes.

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