The government of Japan has since 2006 been assisting hundreds of farmers in northern Namibia through the Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteer (JOCV) programme to embrace flood- and drought-adaptive cropping systems to conserve water in the semi-arid regions.
The two programmes supported by JOCV are the Northern Crop and Livestock Development Development Master Plan Study (N-CLIMP) and the Flood and Drought Adaptive Cropping systems to conserve water in semi-arid areas (SATREPS).
Japanese Ambassador to Namibia Hideyuki Sakamoto told New Era that both projects are ultimately aimed at stabilising and improving the life of small-scale farmers in the north.
N-CLIMP, according to Sakamoto, is a three-year project that runs until mid-2017 and it targets the four northern regions, namely, Omusati, Oshana, Oshikoto and Ohangwena.
“The project aims to improve the livelihood of small-scale farmers through developing a strategic Master Plan for Namibia based on detailed analysis of agricultural and livestock farming challenges faced by the farmers.
“It provides technical assistance in introducing market-oriented farming by diversifying agricultural and farm products and techniques, facilitating farmers’ access to useful market information and providing demand driven technical training,” he says.
Sakamoto also explained that SATREPS is a scientific research collaboration project run in partnership between the University of Namibia (Unam) and the Kinki University in Japan.
“The project conducts research on hybrid rice-mahangu food production and mixed cropping system in order to support farmers in securing constant agricultural production, regardless of meteorological conditions which tend to be a significant challenge for Namibia as a country heavily affected by climate change,” said Sakamoto.
The SATREPS project will end early next year after having completed a five-year course. It is run from the Ogongo Campus of Unam and covers seasonal wetlands in north-central Namibia.
Under N-CLIMP Japan seconded four experts, who have expertise in arid land agriculture, cattle farming/farm sanitation, agriculture management and promotion that have been stationed in the north for the duration of the programme.
Under SATREPS six experts in crop science, development studies, water, crop physiology and geography were seconded to Namibia. Ambassador Sakamoto said the government of Japan deployed these experts to Namibia to assist the country in fulfilling its Vision 2030, NDP4 and the Harambee Prosperity Plan (HPP).
He said apart from Namibia, the government of Japan has seconded its agricultural experts to numerous African countries to assist these countries to transform their subsistence farmers into commercial farmers and to help double rice production in sub-Saharan Africa to 28 million tonnes by 2018.
About the Japanese Embassy
Japan established diplomatic relations with Namibia in 1990 and had initially assigned the Embassy of Japan in Pretoria to take charge of its affairs in Namibia.
In January 2015, the resident Embassy of Japan in Namibia was officially opened with Sakamoto becoming the first resident Ambassador of Japan to Namibia after having presented his credentials to President Hage Geingob in January 2015. The Japanese Embassy is located in Klein Windhoek.
“The Embassy is trying to expand its activities in the area of social and economic cooperation, as well as of cultural information,” Sakamoto explained.