In one way or another every farmer in Namibia - whether commercial or communal - is faced with challenges: drought, floods, overgrazing, veld fires and bush encroachment, to mention a few.
The communal farming community of Otjetjekua in the Kunene Region is no exception.
Through our Corporate Social Investment vehicle, the Meatco Foundation, mechanisms have been put in place to better the farming conditions of farmers like those at Otjetjekua through various developmental initiatives, including erecting crush pens, the awarding of stud bulls to improve genetics and cattle quality, and by offering training on proper rangeland management practices to curb overgrazing.
During a recent visit to Otjetjekua, Meatco, together with a delegation from the Danish Coop, witnessed and heard first-hand how the community is benefitting from the rangeland management training offered to them.
The Meatco Foundation implemented the “Sustainable Cattle Production in Namibia” programme which is being carried out in areas mainly north of the Veterinary Cordon Fence (VCF), but which will also be extended to some communal areas south of the VCF.
The programme will run until October 2015.
One of the sections in this programme is ‘Sustainable rangeland management training’ which was implemented in collaboration with the Integrated Rural Development and Nature Conservation (IRDNC). This section of the programme uses the ‘Training of Trainers’ (TOT) model which trains farmers on proper rangeland practices.
“Through the training we have received thus far, we learned what the differences are between annual and perennial grasses. We were also taught that after a long period of no rain, we need to evaluate and take stock of our rangeland to determine how to continue farming in a way that does not degrade the environment, but is also beneficial to our livestock,” the Otjetjekua community told Meatco and the Danish Coop delegation.
The community said they are hopeful that they will start reaping the rewards of all the training they are receiving in the coming two to three years.
“We hope to deliver good quality cattle to Meatco as long as we apply everything we are being trained on through the rangeland management project,” the community said.
The same project will be rolled out in Okongo in the Ohangwena region.
Kingsley Kwenani, Executive Officer of the Meatco Foundation, says part of the Foundation’s strategic framework is to see to it that rural communities are able to manage profitable and sustainable livestock production systems.
Through the Sustainable Cattle Production in Namibia programme, the Meatco Foundation seeks to enable about 2 500 smallholder communal farmers to sustainably manage their livestock.
The project is co-funded by the Danish Coop, Global Protein Solutions (GPS) and the Farmer Support Programme (FSP) through Solidaridad, and Meatco.
Around 61% of the NCA is communal land which falls under the leadership of Traditional Authorities and is occupied by subsistence farmers. As its rangelands degrade, the already impoverished residents are becoming increasingly vulnerable to drought and climate change. Active interventions are needed to shift towards more resilient land and natural resource use. However, commercialising cattle for slaughter and treating the pasture as a managed resource, requires a shift in traditional tribal practices and mind-set. The Meatco Foundation anticipates that this will in turn lead to an improved livelihood.
When the project comes to an end, Meatco will continue with activities to promote sustainability.