Capacity building for resettlement farmers is fragmented between different institutions and there is no comprehensive programme to ensure that they are properly trained, the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry (MAWF) has said.
According to its Capacity Building Strategy for Resettlement Farmers for 2017 to 2022, existing institutions, extension staff and mentors that offer farmer training do not provide the required quantity and quality of training.
The agriculture ministry introduced the strategy, contained in a document launched late last year, to build the required skills for resettlement farmers in a more coordinated fashion, vowing to work with relevant ministries and stakeholders to harmonise such efforts.
The strategy will focus on building the skills of Namibian farmers who benefited from the Group Resettlement Schemes, Affirmative Loan Scheme and the National Resettlement Programme.
It was necessitated by the fact that most commercial farms on which resettlement farmers were resettled have turned into white elephants as those that have been resettled lack the capacity and skills to run these farms productively and sustainably, the document states.
“Commercial farms that are currently being used for resettlement purposes are very important to maintain agricultural production and contribution towards the Gross Domestic Product, hence drastic measures are needed to improve productivity on resettlement farms,” the ministry’s Permanent Secretary, Percy Misika is quoted as saying in the document.
At present, the ministry has two directorates that have a major training component for farmers. These are the Directorate of Agriculture Production, Extension and Engineering Services (DAPEES) and Directorate of Agriculture Research and Development (DARD).
DAPEES’s core function is to provide agriculture extension services.
“There is supposed to be an extension worker in each constituency, but some posts are vacant and the ratio of farmers to extension worker is very high, estimated to be more than 2 000 farmers to one [extension worker],” reads the document.
According to recommendations by the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations, an extension worker is supposed to work with only 500 farmers.
DARD on the other hand has training centres around the country and trains farmers and farm workers.
There are two main agriculture training centres, one being the Tsumis Arid Zone Agriculture Centre in the Hardap Region. It offers training in crop and livestock production, as well as in water infrastructure.
The other is the Mashare Agriculture Development Institute in Kavango East. It provides training in various subjects and graduates are considered for inclusion in green scheme programmes.
In addition, there are 14 livestock research stations. These stations carry out research on large and small stock; rangeland management; fodder production; dairy production and breeding.
Training is also provided through the Farmer Support Project; Communal Lands Development Project; AGRA ProVision; vocational training centres; private agriculture colleges; University of Namibia; Namibia University of Science and Technology; Agro Marketing and Trade Agency and the Meat Corporation of Namibia.
Farmers unions and non-governmental organisations provide farmer training as well.
- Title: Capacity building for farmers fragmented: MAWF
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- Date: 4:12 PM