The proper control of rangeland could benefit the economy as a whole. The National Farmers Union Leadership Seminar on Rangeland Management held a fortnight ago in Otjiwarongo is in the process of developing practical rangeland programmes to be applied on a national scale.
The outcomes from the seminar will direct the rolling out process where leaders from the union as well as officials from the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry will share notes before adopting resolutions from the farmers’ meeting.
The Minister of Agriculture, Water and Forestry, Hon. John Mutorwa said that the long term benefits of successful rangeland management can benefit the economy as a whole with an estimated additional N$2 billion per year in meat processing if combined with further value adding opportunities.
Sketching the size of the problem, the minister said “The estimated minimum cost to alleviate these issues, including the bush encroachment problem, on a national scale will amount to ±N$30 billion in real terms over the next 20 years.”
The farmers who attended the seminar were in agreement with Mutorwa in that the whole value chain in the Northern Communal Areas (NCA) requires attention to produce livestock sustainably , to increase efficiency and to improve the marketing of livestock to match livestock numbers with rangeland productivity.
The current rangeland management systems in the communal areas are challenging. The seminar stressed the need to engage in a process of identifying and addressing impediments to improved rangeland management.
“We need to move away from a system of continuous grazing to a grazing management strategy which provides sufficient time for the rangeland to rest and recover” one of the farmers commented.
Another major challenge is to improve water catchment and retention to reduce erosion problems and water runoff, as well as the establishment of adapted perennial grasses as cultivated pastures.