By Patience Nyangove
THE Flood and Drought Adaptive cropping system, a pilot project aimed at conserving water resources to cope with the yearly fluctuating floods and drought was handed over to Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry (MAWF) by the Japanese Embassy in Windhoek last week.
The pilot project was conducted by the Science and Technology Research Partnership for Sustainable Development (SATREPS) together with the University of Namibia (UNAM), Japan Science and Technology (JST) and Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) will see small scale farmers in the semi-arid northern regions applying various proposed cultivation techniques such as mixed cropping in the water fluctuation zones, ridge and furrow mixed cropping, mixed seedling, sequential planting after rains, cultivar selection and sustaining soil fertility.
Welcoming the Japanese ambassador to Namibia Hideyuki Sakamoto and his delegation, MAWF permanent secretary Percy Misika applauded the Japanese government for its unwavering comittment towards the alleviating of food insecurity in Namibia.
“This initiative is in line with our Harambee Prosperity Plan (HPP) in terms of food security and as we are all aware that Namibia has been facing a challenge of food deficit and our people have been relying so heavily on the Government for emergency relief,” said Misika.
“The results from the pilot project are here now, and it is only a matter of putting together a technical team to formulate a scheme to upscale the ongoing project,” he added.
Speaking at the handover ceremony ambassador Sakamoto said the project will stabilise and improve the life of small-scale farmers in the northern regions of the country.
“The project aims to improve the livelihood of small-scale farmers through developing a strategic master plan for Namibia based on detailed analysis of agricultural and livestock farming challenges faced by the farmers.
“It provides technical assistance in introducing market-oriented farming by diversifying agricultural and farm products and techniques, facilitating farmers’ access to useful market information and providing demand-driven technical training,” said Sakamoto.
The pilot project entails the rice introduction effort to a seasonal wetland an initial production study that saw rice from three cultivated species: Oryaza glaberrima Steud (African rice) Oryza sative L (Asian rice) and their interspecific progenies (NERICA or New Rice for Africa) being grown in the wetlands together with upland drought adaptive crops.
Professor Mario Iijima who was heading the project since its inception in 2012 said this is a new cropping system aimed at overcoming both floods and drought.
“When the root systems of two different species entangle each other, they help each other. Rice will offer oxygen to pearl millet in flood water and pearl millet can mature in water. Under dry condition pearl millet will offer water to rice then rice can mature under dry condition,” explained Professor Iijima
Other mix cropping includes growing mahangu together with sorghum, which according to Professor Iijima also helps the crops to co-exist and survive both drought and floods.
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