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XINHUA NEWS SERVICE REPORTS FROM THE AFRICAN CONTINENT

 
Namibian farmers adopt novel planting
techniques to boost productivity

WINDHOEK, (Xinhua) -- Lusius Nghimbwasha of Onghalulu Farmers’ Cooperative from Namibia’s Kavango East region had a circumscribed understanding of fruit tree farming.

For a long time, traditional techniques of planting have been a persistent practice and feature, as modern approaches of cultivating fruit trees and marketing were inconceivable to the farmer.

The conventional methods were, however, unsustainable and detrimental to the project outputs.

“We were susceptible to climate change and faced challenges of market diversification. In recent years, from the production, expansion of farming venture has been a challenge,” said Nghimbwasha on Monday.

As luck would have it for him, farmers in the north-eastern region were trained on sustainable fruit tree production by Communal Land Development Project under the Deutsche Gesellschaft fur Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) in October this year.

The GIZ-funded training program fuses traditional and modern techniques to equip farmers in rural communities with fruit farming skills, said Communal Land Development Project’s field advisor Oliver Manungo.

“Our worry has been the magnitude of local fruit production and output which has been low and, sustainability thereof,” he said.

According to Manungo, skills imparted include hands-on agricultural planting skills such as grafting, plant-budding technology and contemporary planting techniques.

There, Nghimbwasha and other 90 local participants gained new skills in diversified agricultural production methods related to fruit tree farming.

The training has since shifted the approaches around sustainable practices of fruit tree farming utilized by the once-struggling farmers.

On Monday, as the dawn of light arrived over a far-flung village in Namibia’s Kavango region, Nghimbwasha and other members of Onghalulu Farmers’ Cooperative had already arrived at the fruit farming project site.

Unlike previous weeks, the discussion on Monday was different. Members were caucusing on how to intensify fruit farming efforts and planting, drawing on skills gained at a recent workshop held in the region.

“I learned a lot about the planting of fruit trees, especially plant-budding technology, which is new for me. We are now re-strategizing to adopt best practices learned, to shift our planting and marketing techniques to boost production,” Nghimbwasha said.

The training also aims to improve food availability, nutrition and drive industrialization at the household level in the communal areas.

“Our target is to get people to plant a sizeable number of fruit trees to leap way the country into industrialization. To the extent that farmers and the agricultural sector can build juice factories,” Manungo added.

Records by Namibia Statistics Agency shows that Namibia imports more than 80 percent of its fruits for consumption, a trend farmers wish to reverse.

Another fruit tree farmer who participated in the training from Mutango village in Kavango East region, Naas Coetzee, said that training presented an opportunity for him to reflect on his venture, which he described as small-scale.

“We don’t have a big set-up regarding hectares to produce fruits in excess to export to an international market. With the skills gained, we shall venture into value addition,” Coetzee said.

Meanwhile, there is growing interest and potential into fruit farming in rural areas, according to Manungo.

“For this to happen, there is a need to produce large quantities to sustain factories,” he said.

In the interim, for Nghimbwasha and cooperative members, they are dreading on expansion, sustainability, processing as well as value addition by applying newly acquired skills and adopting techniques learned.

“We can produce guava juice, mango, jam and marmalade. Moreover, most of these fruit trees do not require much water, which gives us the competitive edge,” said Nghimbwasha.

           

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