Government intensifies agricultural



Government has intensified its agricultural mechanisation programme to boost productivity and food security by availing 45 tractors and is in the process of acquiring 20 more for agricultural active regions of the country.The mechanisation program also comes with yet another back up food security plan, the Dry Land Crop Farming which targets subsistence farmers with subsidised planting, ploughing, crop procurement and fertilisation programs The Villager understands. The Dry Land Crop Farming program is the second policy implemented by Government after the Green Scheme was mooted by the Founding Father Dr Sam Nujoma 10 years ago to boost Namibia’s food reserves and promote self sustenance.The acquisition of the tractors and farm machinery will also continue to be on the Ministry of Agriculture’s priority task spilling into next year’s budgeting plan.The agricultural mechanisation program will target sectors including Okavango, South and South East, Caprivi regions and the northern part of the country. Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture Water and Forestry, Andrew Ndishishi told The Villager this week, “The agricultural mechanisation scheme is meant to improve the country’s farming methods and enhance agricultural methods used in Namibia.”He added that the plan will also augur well for the country’s national food reserves meant to guarantee Namibia 12 months supply of food in case of natural calamities including drought and floods. The agricultural mechanisation program is backed by a N $329 million budget expenditure in the current financial year. According to Ndishishi, the money available is meant to drive the dry land farming project while financing the country’s ongoing green scheme project which is now in its tenth year.Ndishishi added that there are five international companies which he could not reveal that have expressed interest in helping the country’s ambitious mechanisation programme. He added that since Government called for interested suppliers about a month ago, the interest in mechanising the agriculture sector has been immense from international partners. However, it has not been all rosy for the Ministry of Agriculture in rolling out their multimillion dollar mechanisation plan with Ndishishi noting that donors and non-governmental organisations have been calling for the suppression of the plan opting for the primitive ox-drawn ploughs which are presumed environmental friendly. Although the Ministry of Agriculture still has to deal with the difficult transition of moving from primitive farming methods to technologically driven methods, Ndishishi said the Government`s expenditure plan has been giving positive responses to prioritising agriculture through increasing expenditure in the sector. “The only way to boosting agriculture is through mechanical production which is efficient. I really do not understand why certain quarters would advocate for  primitive ways which are not even used in their countries. If ox-drawn type of farming does not work anywhere they would not also work in Namibia. The world is changing and mechanisation is the way forward in farming,” said Ndishishi. The Director of Extensions and Engineering in the same ministry, Sophia Kasheeta corroborated to Ndishishi`s sentiments adding that there is greater need for the country to move towards a technical agriculture production system and move away from the unreliable animal drawn schemes which sometimes compromise production. “The only way to sustainable agricultural production is through investing in mechanisation and will make it easy for the farmers to produce for both domestic and export market.” The Dry Land Farming program will also cover dry areas in the South where food production is lower due to unfavourable climate conditions and semi arid desert conditions. It will only concentrate on food production. “The dry land scheme is meant to support subsistence farmers and creates provision for ploughing services, fertilisation, and seed procurement by Government on behalf of the farmers and will also support farmers with technical knowhow on their farming projects. “We will also be implementing the programme to increase the food production scheme while averting the effects of the climate change and insufficient rainfall in most areas across the country that sometimes hampers agriculture production,” said Ndishishi. An upbeat Ndishishi said the Government will also follow up the programme by erecting technology centres to help farmers use the farm mechanisation.