Windhoek – An ambitious plan to integrate Namibia’s struggling green scheme projects with the Maize Triangle region to improve food security and mitigate the risks of rain-fed crop production could be implemented next year already. This would also lower the financial burden on both the State and the private sector, proponents of the idea say.
Details of the plan emerged yesterday when CEO of the Namibian Agronomic Board (BAB) Christof Brock confirmed that a detailed proposal by the NAB will soon be handed to President Hage Geingob, setting out what could be labelled Namibia’s first climate-smart agreement, if the proposal is accepted by government.
The NAB’s reaction comes days after Geingob said the Swapo Party should first interrogate whether Namibia was really getting value for money from the green schemes and whether food security could be improved by involving the private sector.
He suggested this could be done through smart reforms, instead of letting the government shoulder the burden alone.
Brock yesterday said the NAB welcomes Geingob’s suggestion that the Maize Triangle – the traditional food basket of the country – should be incorporated into the green schemes in a clever and climate-smart project that will be to the benefit of both entities and guarantee food security in times of drought.
Brock explained that, like the green schemes, producers in the Maize Triangle have invested massive amounts of money over the past few dry years at huge personal risk and with no insurance and have only harvested half of the full potential produce of the Maize Triangle due to the lack of rain.
He says currently there is an imbalance in both projects that can be corrected by creating a perfect balance between irrigation (green schemes) and rain-fed (Maize Triangle) production.
“It is a well-known fact that rain-fed crop farming on a commercial scale has become way too risky for cash-strapped producers to carry on, or expand. The risks are so high that no insurance company will go near a rain-fed producer.
“The NAB proposal will suggest that government introduce a coupon system for rain-fed farmers to obtain seeds and fertilisers during the planting seasons of years when good rains are predicted. The value of these vouchers will be refundable to government after good harvests.
“Seeds and fertilisers account for about 40 percent of total input costs of rain-fed farmers and the proposed coupon system will be a massive incentive for them to plant to maximum capacity in good rainy seasons to increase harvests and ensure government’s maize and mahangu silos are stocked well. In dry years when much less is planted, these vouchers will not be issued to rain-fed producers and they will have to carry the risks of planting under unfavourable circumstances.”
Brock further says the green schemes should embrace the opportunities in rain-fed areas and not just concentrate on irrigation: “The green scheme concept should be expanded to these areas and make use of the already existing infrastructure and technologies while maintaining full-scale irrigation at the existing green scheme plants.”
The NAB says the two concepts can be merged for the good of all Namibians and can potentially secure foodstocks at all times.