The 2023 National Agronomic and Horticulture Awards (Naha) ceremony was held at the Mashare BlueberriesGreen Schemein the Kavango East region on Thursday.
The event, which attracted agronomy and horticulture producers, traders, input suppliers and other key stakeholders, was organised to honour excelling farmers.
Kavango East Governor Bonifatius Wakudumo said the region is home to over 300 small-scale farmers, mostly specialising in the production of controlled agronomic and horticulture crops like white maize, pearl millet, green pepper, tomatoes and leafy vegetables.
The Governor said the region is home to some of the most productive green scheme irrigation projects in the country, like the Uvungu Vungu and Ndonga Linena irrigation projects.
“This year has witnessed a notable progress in production when compared to the preceding three years, as 17% of the locally harvested white maize grain in Namibia is from the Kavango East region,”Wakudumo indicated.
He said the region has potential and unexplored opportunities, should there be investment, that can improve the socioeconomic status of communities through employment opportunities, capacity building and upscaling production.
The Namibian Agronomic Board Chief Executive Officer, Fidelis Mwazi said, “the Namibia Agronomic Board aims to capacitate local farmers to increase their yields and realise Namibia’s food self-sufficiency. The Board is responsible for promoting the agronomic industry and facilitating the production, processing, storage, and marketing of controlled agricultural products in the country.”
The awards were presented across an array of diverse categories, including the Naha agronomy awards for the best maize, mahangu and wheat producers of the year.
The awards money was given in vouchers in which the Best Agronomy Award of the Year winner bagged N$30,000. The same amount was scooped by the Best Horticulture Producer of the Year.
Meanwhile, the Master Crop Value Chain Actor was awarded to the Avagro Group from Swakopmund for its sustainable agriculture solutions. The agricultural solutions provider took home a N$60,000.
The founder, Leanie Hartmann, told The Villager that she was happy to receive the overall award with her team and that she was going to work hard to bring Namibian products to more than five African countries.
Hartmann also stated that the prestigious award in Best Horticulture and Innovators of the Year shows that they have become a leading horticulture producer in the country.
“I believe we’re the best innovators because we have the most amazing team that is working hard to get to the final product. We’re innovating every day and trying to develop new value chains that can really bring Namibia’s agriculture development to the forefront,” Hartmann said.
The farm, she said, was started in 2014, as merely an open field with only olive oil.
She said they had over three hectares and it was very hard to grow crops under the harshest conditions in Swakopmund, but had to overcome challenges of climate and the soil with unsuitable water.
“Technology has helped us to grow in harsh conditions, and I would like to say if we can do it here, we can do it everywhere. We have been exporting some of our products to South Africa and we’re growing very high-end products, so that the tomatoes, green pepper and flowers can be sold in supermarkets in South Africa.”