Smallholder farmers in drought-stricken areas receive assistance

Martin Endjala

Smallholder farmers living in regions under threatening climate conditions have received a boost, following support from the government through funds sourced from the Green Climate Fund (GCF)in collaboration with the Environmental Investment Fund under the simplified approval process.

During the occasion of the handing over of 750 goats, and 300 energy-efficient stoves in the Kunene Region last week, Governor Marius Sheya said the government is vested with the responsibility of ensuring that there is a consistent balance between environmental protection and food production despite the challenges it faces.

He said the government aims to enhance food and nutrition security, especially for vulnerable farmers impacted by prolonged drought, aimed at improving rangeland and ecosystem management practices of smallholder farmers under conditions of climate change in Sesfontein, Fransfontein, and Warmquelle areas.

Sheya said the importance of this intervention cannot be understated, since the implementation of appropriate climate adaptation measures ensures food and nutrition security critical for improved livelihoods of rural communities.

The government handed over 750 goats in total, 700 Does and 57 Bucks for the Kunene Region. 17 beneficiaries are from the Khorixas constituency, seven are from the Sesfontein area, five in the Grootburg area, and three in the Otjokavare area.

The value of the goats, medicine, and vaccine is estimated at N$1.5 million. To date, the project has benefitted 88 beneficiaries in terms of the goats revolving scheme.

A further 300 energy-efficient stoves were handed over to rural poor households valued at N$1.5 million.

This intervention is expected to reduce the deforestation rate due to minimised utilisation of firewood by the beneficiaries with 70 percent of the beneficiaries being females.

‘As a region, we fully embrace this project since it will not only support the programmes to achieve our climate change and community support targets as a region but will also inevitably serve as a conduit for achieving national climate resilience objectives as well as improving the livelihoods of our farmers,” said Sheya.

The governor urged beneficiaries to put the handed-over items to good use, take good care of the goats and abide by the conditions of by-laws, protocol, and the signed revolving agreement.

The Governor hopes that these goats and stoves will have the intended impact on their livelihoods, while also wishing that the goats will multiply so that their offspring can be revolved to benefit other community members in the same region.

Beneficiaries will also receive intensive training to be offered by competent staff members to complement their skills in small stock husbandry.

Sheya urges them to make use of the services offered by the Ministry, adding that these services are created specifically for them with the sole purpose of improving their livelihoods.

The distribution of goats and energy-efficient stoves to the vulnerable farmers Sheya said, couldn’t have come at a better time.

Commenting that these interventions are very relevant and much needed by its resource farmers who are hard-hit by the devastating and prolonged drought.

The IREMA Kunene Project’s Small Stock Revolving Scheme complements the Small Stock Development and Distribution to Communal Areas which is a capital project initiated by the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Land Reform.

This scheme is aimed at providing a quality core breeding flock of suitable goats to selected vulnerable households to gain a sustainable means of income generation and enhanced food and nutrition security while improving their social and economic well-being.

Minister of Finance and Public Enterprise Ipumbu Shiimi, announced last week that the government has made provisions to the tune of N$700 million to cater for drought relief, in the event that the 2024 rain season doesn’t yield the much-needed rain.

Meanwhile, EIF’s Manager of Programming and Programmes Bernadette Shivute-Shalumbu, emphasised the significance of the IREMA project in responding to recurrent droughts in the Kunene region.

The project focuses on alternative farming practices, particularly the introduction of Boer goats as a resilient alternative to cattle farming.

Additionally, the project addresses deforestation through the distribution of energy-efficient stoves that require less wood, contributing to environmental sustainability.

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