FAO in Namibia

Karangana Poultry Project thrives

Theresia is pictured with eggs from her poultry farm, which serve as both a source of income and nutrition for her and her household. ©FAO/P. Tobias

Bunya, Namibia - In 2020, Namibia faced a menacing wave of locust outbreaks that exacerbated the already dire food insecurity situation in the country. As many farming communities battled the locusts and gripped by the prospect of losing their hard toiled harvest, determined farmers such as Theresia Ihemba sought to diversify their livelihoods in response to the threat.

Theresia's story began in 2021 in Bunya, a small village on the outskirts of the Kavango West region. It marked the inception of her small-scale poultry venture, which she named Karangana Poultry Project, motivated by a twofold mission: to tackle the pervasive issues of poverty and hunger within her own household and to create a source of income for herself.

“I started the farm with 60 chicken layers because I was driven by the worrisome situation at the time of the locust outbreaks, our crop fields were severely affected by the pests which drastically reduced our harvest and spelled hunger for us,” Theresia explained.

A difficult start

One of the significant challenges that Theresia faced as an upcoming poultry farmer was the high cost of chicken feed and how quickly her chickens consumed it. This made it difficult to ensure the birds' proper nutrition and maintain a steady income.

“A 50-kilogram bag of chicken feed costs around N$500 (approximately *USD 27), and it lasts less than a week, the high cost really demotivated me because I earn a meagre salary,” said Theresia.

Theresia works at the local missionary at Bunya, earning a salary of less than USD 100 per month. However, her fortunes took a turn for the better when she received support from FAO in the form of donated chicken layers, chicken feed, and poultry farm equipment.

Thanks to this assistance, Theresia's poultry production has seen a remarkable boost. Her chickens are now laying more eggs due to improved nutrition, and the farm’s increased production capacity allows her to afford chicken feed from the sale of these eggs.

Theresia proudly attests that these eggs have been a lifeline for her and her family. In a household that includes her two children and three of her brother's kids, the nutritious benefits of eggs have significantly improved their daily meals.

“I am very grateful for FAO’s support as I am now in a better position to take care of my family, please continue uplifting rural farmers such as myself as we are greatly in need of such support,” she passionately appealed.

Collective effort

Theresia's journey isn't just a personal success story; it's also a community-driven effort. She sells her eggs to the local clinic, primarily to the nurses, and to nearby schools, especially the teachers. Individual buyers from her village have also become regular customers. Theresia's efforts are transforming her community's access to a vital source of nutrition and dietary diversity.

Thrilled with the support she has received from FAO; Theresia is now encouraging more women like herself to venture into poultry farming. She believes that this not only helps in feeding their families but also provides a means to earn a stable income.

"Women should not shy away from starting such projects. As wives and mothers, we share equal responsibility with men in ensuring that our families have enough to eat," she pointed out.

Locust outbreaks in Namibia have adversely affected communal farming communities like Bunya, underscoring the urgent need for support and intervention. FAO’s support to farmers such as Theresia exemplifies the core value of effective partnerships in promoting accelerated transformation in Namibia's agrifood systems through resilience building.

Improving livelihoods

The support that Theresia received is part of the "Emergency Response and Resilience Building to Improve Livelihoods, Food Security, and Nutrition in Locust-Affected Regions of Namibia" project, funded by the Government of Japan. This initiative aims to assist 2 200 farming households in four vulnerable regions: Ohangwena, Kavango West, Zambezi, and //Karas.

The project focuses on livelihood and dietary diversification, addressing the needs of vulnerable locust-affected households through the distribution of agro-inputs, skills enhancement using Climate Smart Agriculture (CSA) techniques, and linking farmers to markets.

Theresia's success is in harmony with FAO's commitment to the "Four Betters", particularly Better Nutrition and a Better Life.  As Theresia continues to thrive in her poultry farming venture, her story serves as a beacon of hope and an inspiring example of how empowered individuals can bring about positive change within their communities.


*correct as at 09/01/2024