Namibia Economist (Windhoek)

Namibia: Drought Pushes Communal Grazing Down

Rangeland conditions in the northern communal areas are deteriorating from the western drier zone, all the way to the eastern higher-rainfall areas. Rangeland expert, Dr Axel Rothauge said at a revision of Millenium Challenge Account (MCA) projects last week, the Kaokoland agro-ecological zone is losing ite ecological standing and rangeland is degrading in all other areas.

"The findings indicate that after the drought, the rangeland condition will stabilize at next lower level; which means that livestock productivity will drop and Northern Communal Area (NCA) farmers will become poorer, unless some recommendations are implemented," he said. Dr Rothauge also presented the findings on the nutrient status of livestock in the NCA. He said there are widespread nutritional deficiencies in cattle and goats at all times of the year. To improve the situation, Dr Rothauge said farmers are encouraged to provide lick supplements as it makes a huge difference to production and reproduction of the affected livestock.

Dr Rothauge spoke, together with other experts at an information session hosted by Agra ProVision to provide feedback on the fully-funded Millennium Challenge Account - Namibia projects. These are the Baseline Survey of Animal Nutrition and the Sero-Epidemiological and Parasite Survey in livestock. These projects, under the Agriculture pillar of MCA and conducted in the Northern Communal Areas (NCA) of Namibia were implemented by Agra ProVision.

The event was opened by Mr Peter Kazmaier, CEO of Agra who outlined the importance of the projects and how they contribute to the growth of agriculture in the Northern Communal Areas and Namibia at large. "The information and research findings generated through this MCA mechanism has already contributed to the quality of life and social upliftment of the direct project beneficiaries; it has also backed Namibia's good standing of delivering excellent applied research and technology services internationally," he said.

MCA project manager of the Livestock Management Efficiency Fund (LMEF), Mr Mwazi Mwazi, gave a brief presentation on MCA and its achievements since inception in 2008. MCA-N provides grant funding for public investments into Agriculture, Education and Tourism. He said: "MCA has already spent 70% of its agricultural project of US$53 million in the NCAs, with the remaining committed to be spent before September 2014. All these interventions complement the overall MCA goal; to reduce poverty in rural areas of Namibia."

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