Windhoek-In an effort to fight food insecurity the Minister of Agriculture, Water and Forestry John Mutorwa has announced that an additional 5 536 hectares (ha) of land for green scheme irrigation purposes will be developed over the Fifth National Development Plan (NDP5) period.
He said the agriculture sector on a global scale, and so also in Namibia, is increasingly being affected by energy, food and economic crises.
“This situation is further compounded by natural disasters such as floods, periodic droughts and in 2017 worms devouring crops in many African countries, and which are predicted to escalate due to the very real visible threats caused by climate change,” he warned.
NDP5 came into effect in March this year when NDP4 ended.
The green scheme is a government programme conducted by and through the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry to encourage the development of irrigation-based agronomic production, with the aim of increasing the contribution of agriculture to the country’s gross domestic product and to promote food security and food self-sufficiency at national and household levels.
To date the government has established about 11 green scheme projects, which total about 6 000 hectares. These include Etunda, Musese, Sikondo, Uvungu-Vungu, Mashare, Ndonga, Shitemo, Shadikongoro, Kalimbeza and Hardap, amongst others.
He said the ministry would continue to promote the green scheme programme and its projects through the establishment of more projects at Liselo/Katima Farm, Zone, Tandjieskoppe, Bagani, Sesfontein/Khowarib, Neckertal Dam and other places in the country.
Mutorwa said that by 2022, 88 percent of Namibians would have access to adequate food all year round.
Equally he noted that by 2022 the production of nutritious food would be increased and consumption of diversified meals promoted to reach at least 60 percent of the population.
The negative impacts of these phenomena are being particularly felt in Africa, where agriculture, in its broadest sense, is inextricably linked to the economy, the environment and most importantly, the people.
Furthermore, Mutorwa said
82 200 ha of land would be bush-thinned annually over the NDP5 period, adding that a bush-based industry would be developed to create 17 600 jobs and 460 enterprises, at least half of which should benefit women. Additionally, he said, efforts would be made to increase national food storage capacity from 22 900 mt (metric tons) to 39 400 mt over the NDP5 period.
To increase the productivity of subsistence farming the use of drought-resistant varieties will be promoted, besides crop rotation, soil enrichment and organic pesticides usage.
He said there is a need to increase both cereals and horticulture by expanding green scheme projects.
Agricultural production would be increased by advancing the use of conservation agriculture (CA) with at least 50 percent of farmers practising CA for both crop and livestock production on the whole or part of their farmland and by applying appropriate technologies.
Furthermore, school and home backyard gardening initiatives would be introduced to enhance food security, nutrition and promote good agricultural practices.
Mutorwa vowed that efforts would be made during NDP5 to mobilize investors to develop agro-businesses to take advantage of increased local and regional production.
“This will include fortification of processed food especially for baby feeds. This will also address the challenge of stunting among children. It is expected that by 2022 stunting among children less than two years old will be reduced from 24.1 to 12.1.”
During NDP5, he maintained, the government will make efforts to minimise the impact of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) in the NCAs (northern communal areas) by extending the cordon fence to the northern borders by 2022.
Other major activities will include increased enrolment and teaching in veterinary courses at the University of Namibia (Unam) and Namibia University of Science and Technology (NUST). The development of a pharmaceutical plant in collaboration with the private sector, and cross-border initiatives with neighbouring countries, would be initiated.
“The frequent outbreaks of animal diseases, and continuous drought, have impacted negatively on the growth performance of the sector during the NDP4 period, contracting it by an average 2.6 percent. Nonetheless sustained efforts have continued to move the country from an exporter of live animals towards greater value addition,” he said.
The ministry is planning to construct more silos at Grootfontein, with a total capacity of 6 000 mt and expand the existing capacity of the Rundu silos from 4000 mt to 20 000 mt to a total capacity of 22 900 mt. Existing silos are at Katima Mulilo (7400 mt) in the Zambezi Region and Rundu (4000 mt) in the Kavango Region, Omuthiya (4000 mt) in Oshikoto Region, Okongo (4500 mt) in Ohangwena Region, and Tsandi (3000 mt) in Omusati Region.