Omuthiya- Farmers in the northern central areas (NCAs) lack marketing strategies and production skills, which impede their growth. This is according to a study by the Meat Board of Namibia.
The study, which was done sometime back, evaluated the livestock production in the NCAs and found that farmers lack crucial skills in livestock farming. The absence of required skills also mean that farmers in those areas tend to focus on crop production, which, as off late, has not been fruitful due to the prevailing drought.
The findings of the study were shared by Maria Newaya, the coordinator for the NCA livestock master plan under the Meat Board, at a training session for technical extension officers currently undeway in Oshikoto. The 22 technical officers came from as far as Ohangwena and Oshana regions.
Newaya says the study was initiated by the Meat Board and the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry, with the aim to find best possible ways on how livestock farmers can improve production and marketing, and to shift the farmers from crop production to livestock husbandry.
The technicians are being trained in areas of rangeland management practices and supplementation of feeds. The next training sessions will be conducted at Divundu to accommodate Zambezi and the two Kavango regions, while Omusati and Kunene will be last.
According to Gizaw Negussie, the Meat Board’s technical adviser for the livestock farmers forum, it was because of this study that the Meat Board initated a mentorship programme to train farmers on modern farming techniques. Negussie says the success of the mentorship programme is obvious in the fact that farmers who had attended the programme lost few animals compared to those who did not go through the mentorship programme.
“The Meat Board has 14 mentorship programmes, and it showed that productivity could be increased through mentoring. But the challenge was how we can roll this out to the affected communities in order to capacitate them to improve and enhance their farming levels and strategies.
Hence the reason why we collaborated with the ministry of agriculture to train technical extension officers at various agricultural development centres is so that they also expand and disseminate the knowledge to different communities as we cannot cover all the NCAs,” explained Negussie.