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New conservation agriculture framework in the pipeline

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A new Conservation Agriculture (CA) strategic framework to inspire local farmers to adopt sustainable agriculture practices that ensure resilience, food security, and nutrition, as well as environmental protection, is set to be developed an official said this week.

Speaking at a workshop to develop the Comprehensive Conservation Agriculture Program (CCAP), United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Assistant Representative, Ferdinard Mwapopi said the framework is to help farmers increase production and productivity, thus reducing risks and building resilience to climate change.

“Despite agricultural productivity increasing in some countries in the SADC region, others like Namibia remain net importers of food items and are thus highly exposed to environmental and economic factors prevailing in food exporting countries, making them vulnerable to shocks. The situation is further exacerbated by poor farming methods, high levels of soil degradation and desertification resulting in low agricultural productivity,” said Mwapopi.

Furthermore, he noted that droughts and prolonged dry spells also worsen the situation as they result in severe crop damage or complete crop failures, placing many people at risk of hunger. CA principles, which include, minimal soil disturbance, permanent soil cover, and crop rotation, are universally applicable in all agricultural landscapes and cropping systems.

Mwapopi added that, this intervention is especially important for smallholder farmers who despite managing over 80 percent of the world’s estimated 500 million small farms and providing over 80% of the food consumed in a large part of the developing world, are still largely overlooked and left to face challenges such as access to production inputs associated with high prices and lack of access to credits.

In addition, Mwapopi advised, “To effectively motivate these food heroes to adopt conservation agriculture and associated climate-smart practices, it is imperative to improve further information dissemination and awareness creation as well as support to demonstrate conservation agriculture practices and sharing of experiences among farmers and policymakers.”

Stakeholders held meetings from 14-18 November to reflect on lessons learned as well as to craft a new framework (CCAP 2022/23 – 2027/28), to pave a new pathway for CA adoption in Namibia and transition from traditional farming methods towards climate-smart agriculture practices. The Ministry of Agriculture, Water, and Land Reform, in collaboration with stakeholders, developed and launched the first CCAP for 2015/16-2019/2020 in March 2015.

CA is highlighted in Namibia’s 5th National Development Plan for 2017-2022 where 13,000 farmers were targeted to adopt at least one of the CA practices of minimum tillage, crop rotation, and organic soil cover.