Namibia

Climate Change manifestation into drought

The climate change topic has been well elaborated on for years now. It appears to be evident that the effects of climate change on agriculture are observed in many parts of the world. The arid regions of southern Africa of which Namibia is part, the effects of climate change have been observed. Agriculture in Namibia rests on both livestock and crop, of which the livestock industry pre-dominates. Both these industries are vulnerable to the unforgiving climatic conditions such as drought and floods, including concomitant events such as pests and disease outbreaks. Climate change events have manifested mostly in a form of drought and floods in Namibia, while unusually high temperatures are conspicuous in the more arid environments such as the southern and western regions. Namibia has endured recurrent drought conditions since year 2013, affecting the drier regions such as the south, west and north west up to the point where human lives were claimed to have been lost as a result. Although there have been some improvements in rainfall activities from year 2016, they are still erratic and irregular in most parts of the country, thus threatening the country’s sustainable agricultural productivity. The 2018/19 season is again worrisome as many parts of the country have not received significant showers yet, and that the rainy season has progressed, indicating another drought situation.

Drought is characterized by a period of insufficient rainfall (far below average/normal) depriving the soil of moisture, resulting in poor land productivity. Consequently, drought conditions compromise livestock productivity, farm income, and farmers’ sustainable livelihoods. During drought, livestock conditions deteriorate due to thirst and hunger, and eventual deaths are conspicuous. Farmers do not earn much from their livestock as market prices fall because the animals’ body conditions are poor, and there is insufficient fodder or grazing to maintain them. Financial burdens become heavier as farmers tend to depend heavily on commercial feeds supplements so survive the drought.

To safeguard Namibia’s agriculture, appropriate and sustainable drought coping strategies should be explored and cheaply adopted. The most important stage is where farmers have to make decisions for any strategy chosen. Basically, they have three options: relocate the animals, sell the animals, or feed the animals, or a combination of these options. When a farmer decides on any or all three options, there are some key questions to be answered so that the decision is economical and not counter-productive in the end:

Relocation;

a. Where to relocate and how far from essential services (e.g. markets, inputs)? b. Which animals and how many to be relocated? c. Is there sufficient and reliable grazing and water? d. What is the duration of your stay at the new place?

Selling;

a. Which animals and how many to sell? b. When and where will they be sold? c. Is there a restocking plan? d. How much money is expected from sales and what is it budgeted for?

Feeding;

a. Which animals and how many to be fed? b. Is there sufficient feed and additional money for extra feed? c. How much costs and for how long is the feeding period. d. What is your farm fodder flow plan and which are the sources?

Finally, no drought conditions of different years are similar, and there is no standard recipe to cope with drought. Therefore, every year, a farmer should re-assess his/her farm business in terms of finances, feeds, and ability to survive any drought year. he next article will address some of the questions.

Erastus Ngaruka Technical Officer: Livestock within Agribank

New Era Reporter 2019-01-25 09:20:21 2 hours ago