Local women fighting DLDD

20 Sep 2013 01:40
WINDHOEK, 20 SEP (NAMPA) - Women carry out most of the household and farm chores which include nurturing the land, growing food crops, collecting firewood and fetching water.
And as the primary collectors of food and water, women are forced by desertification, land degradation and drought (DLDD) to travel far distances to find food and water sources.
It is for this reason that the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) underlines the role of women in all efforts to combat DLDD.
Sara Bock, a farmer from the Hardap Region, this week said land degradation is directly correlated to stocking rates which exceed the ecological carrying capacity of the land.
Speaking during a side-event of the 11th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 11) of the UNCCD underway in the capital, Bock said sustainable ranching with livestock requires access to grazing areas which are large enough to provide a satisfactory income.
“This will not mitigate the impacts of regular dry periods, but will provide farmers with an opportunity to rest parts of their land,” she explained.
Bock and her neighbours on Farm Nico Noord in the Hardap Region have since 1995 been making efforts to address issues of DLDD, and are today enjoying the fruits of their hard labour.
She and her family, along with six other households, live on communal land comprising 9 000 hectares. The farm is situated about 85 kilometres outside Mariental.
About 2 800 hectares belong to the Bock family. When they started their farming activities in 1995, they only had seven goats and 15 sheep, no waterpoints and no shelter.
Bock and her husband then built a shack to protect themselves from the weather.
There was also no grazing for their few animals and those of their neighbours, so the families decided to practice rotational farming methods.
First, they got rid of the many donkeys they had on the farm to save grazing for their livestock. It was hard to convince her neighbours to do so, she noted.
They also found new ways to grow grass and trees, and used old vehicle tyres to plant grass seedlings, as well as adding Camelthorn trees on the farm.
The farmers also had to use only certain roads as existing paths and roads on the farm were closed to allow new grass species to grow.
“With the drought currently experienced in many parts of the country, we now survive on the grazing that we have saved until today,” a proud Bock stated.
Monitoring is most useful when undertaken by people managing the land, she added.
Thanks to her efforts, she now owns 150 goats, 600 karakul sheep, 250 Persian sheep, 35 heads of cattle, 12 horses and six donkeys.
At the same occasion, a farmer from the Erongo Region said farming should be a constant process of learning for all to keep in touch with the latest developments concerning farming practices, market requirements and consumer preferences.
Dr Ndahafa Nghifindaka, a member of the Namibian Emerging Commercial Farmers’ Union (NECFU) based in the Erongo Region, said during her presentation about ‘Resettlement Experiences’ that famers are faced with many challenges, which include poor veld conditions and high variable climates; insufficient farm sizes, and inadequate or damaged infrastructures; as well as poor knowledge of animal management.
Nghifindaka, who started farming in 2006 with cattle, sheep and goats, said other factors include access to credit; lack of secure title to land; and sharing best practices through exchange programmes and information-sharing forums.
“The government is giving high priority to sectors such as agriculture, manufacturing, tourism and logistics, which are considered as the backbone of Namibia’s economy.
However, sustainable land management, livelihoods and desertification become equally important in advancing national development purposes,” she added.
For the past 23 years since Namibia gained its independence, many efforts have been made and implemented to address issues of DLDD with ever-growing sophistication.
Some efforts built upon previous experience, while many chose new pathways.
A few efforts persist - and these occur where the gap between knowing and doing was eliminated through the formation of appropriate institutions and enhanced knowledge, competence and the confidence of the people involved.
Farming systems range from communal livestock management in unfenced rangelands to large, commercially-run fenced areas, and a myriad of variants in between.
These systems are frequently managed by part-time farmers with full-time jobs elsewhere, although some dedicated, full-time farmers remain.