Implementation of national rangeland policy progresses

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The implementation of the national rangeland policy has now been ongoing for a year with numerous actions which have been implemented. The Rangeland Advisory Committee (RAC) which is also the Steering Committee of this project has met this week. The Committee is satisfied with the progress made, but also realise the complexity of the environment in which this project operates.

The focus of the second year of implementation starts with rangeland surveys which are done during May-June in cooperation with Agra ProVision. Currently the final planning for this is ongoing. Further priorities for 2016 is the drafting of action plans for all areas in Namibia, the determination of the percentage bare land, wood- and grass topping in all areas as well as the writing of success stories and lessons learned with regard to effective rangeland management.

Furthermore it was decided at the meeting to make the NNFU and NECFU more directly involved in the project and a principle decision was taken that these organisations will become “Associates” of the project. Additional assistance to bring about more effective implementation in the communal areas will also be obtained.

The project is looking forward to an exciting second year in order to reach its objectives which are that more and more producers will physically implement effective rangeland management in all areas.  Swakara fur with its velvety texture has become designers’ favourite choice for garments and accessories. This was evident on international catwalks and fashion shows. At the Hong Kong Fair’s gala dinner and fashion show, attended by more than 2 000 people, swakara was prominent on the catwalk, with seven out of the thirteen designers exhibiting the proudly Namibian product as part of their collection. On the Italian Fur Fashion Night, Swakara was witnessed in couture of four out of seven Italian designers presented. While Namibia is spending N$600 million annually to import vaccines and pharmaceuticals for its livestock sector a delegation from China is currently in the country to help determine whether the country will be able to establish its very own vaccine production facility.

The emphasis of the vaccine facility will be on producing foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) as well as lung sickness and brucellosis vaccines.

According to the Minister of Agriculture John Mutorwa, a delegation from Anhui Foreign Economic Construction Group (AFECC) and Jinyu Mission to Namibia will determine if such a vaccine plant can be established in Namibia and how this will be done. Mutorwa said that the Namibian government had already as far back as 2005 identified the production of FMD vaccine as a strategic undertaking in the country.

A 100 hectare plot at Eenhana in the Ohangwena Region has been purchased for the construction of a vaccine production facility and research laboratory.

However, it could not move forward, Namibia needed a competent technical partner, said Mutorwa.

Mutorwa said the ministry in August this year had the opportunity to visit state-of-the-art vaccine production facilities of the Jinyu Group in HonHot, in the inner Mongolia province of China. According to Mutorwa, China is among the world’s largest producers of livestock vaccine, which is a very complicated and expensive undertaking. “Nothing about the production of vaccine is easy.

It takes meticulous attention to detail, to design and construct a vaccine production plant that can optimally produce vaccine, while ensuring animal health and environmental safety,” he said. He further added that it takes years of research to produce viable vaccine that can be commercialised and marketed.

“It is therefore not surprising that such technologies are not readily available for purchase on the commercial market.

“In fact, most of the livestock vaccine producers in the developing world opt to remain in strategic partnerships with well-established manufacturers in the developed world, in order to obtain much needed research and development from the developed world and thus remain relevant and competitive in what they produce,” Mutorwa said.

“The need for livestock vaccines cannot be overemphasised, the recent outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) in the North Central parts of Namibia in May 2015, is clear evidence, of how an outbreak of a disease likes FMD, can disrupt people’s livelihoods, whilst erasing our meagre sources of income.”

Mutorwa said the N$600 million that is spend annually to import vaccines and pharmaceuticals into the country is necessitated by the fact that the country has a growing and vibrant livestock sector composed of approximately 2 million cattle, 4 million goats and 2.6 million sheep.

The minister said due to the obvious growth in the livestock sector the aim is to attract investment into the livestock vaccine and pharmaceutical industries, in order to ensure long term sustainability and security for the Namibian livestock sector and to position the country to one day become a net exporter Photo 1: CA farmer Helena Nangolo planted Okashana 2 mahangu seed in rip furrowed field mid-December 2015. Nangolo has practiced rip furrowing, green soil cover and crop rotation since 2011 and is now noticing that the soil structure has improved regarding organic content and water holding capacity. Photo taken 7 February 2016.

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