FAO in Namibia

FAO boosts food security in Ohangwena and Zambezi regions with handover of agri tools and irrigation systems

Stakeholders and beneficary farmers pictured in Eenhana during the symbolic handover of agricultural tools and small-scale irrigation systems to Ohangwena Regional Council. ©FAO

In a significant effort to enhance local communities' resilience and bolster food security, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) recently symbolically handed over agricultural equipment and small-scale irrigation systems to farmers in Namibia's Ohangwena and Zambezi regions. This initiative is part of the "Emergency response to mitigate multiple shocks and enhance resilient livelihoods in Namibia" project, made possible through generous funding of USD 1.2 million from the Government of Japan.

Embracing innovation to overcome challenges

During the handover ceremony in Ohangwena, Governor Sebastian Ndeitunga emphasized the pressing need for innovative approaches to agriculture amidst the challenges posed by climate change. He underscored the vulnerability of the region to erratic rainfall patterns and stressed the importance of transitioning from traditional farming methods to ensure sustainable food production.

"We need to transition from traditional methods of farming to new innovative methods to maximize production; therefore, we need our farmers to adopt new skills and knowledge," Ndeitunga said.

FAO Sub-Regional Coordinator (SRC) for Southern Africa Patrice Talla echoed these sentiments, highlighting the recurrent threat of El Niño and its disruptive impact on regional food security. He emphasized the necessity of adopting transformative strategies that integrate resilience and sustainability into agricultural systems.

“FAO recognizes that the traditional methods are no longer sufficient to ensure food security in the face of a changing climate. Hence, we advocate for a holistic transformation of agrifood systems, incorporating climate-smart approaches that are essential for resilient and sustainable outcomes,” said Talla.

Empowering farmers, ensuring food security

Meanwhile Zambezi Governor Lawrence Sampofu highlighted the region's potential as a significant contributor to national food security. He urged potential investors to explore opportunities in green scheme projects, citing the availability of over 30 000 hectares of fertile land.

In his handover remarks, Japanese Ambassador to Namibia Hisao Nishimaki reaffirmed Japan's commitment to supporting Namibia's efforts to mitigate climate-related challenges and ensure food security. The ambassador highlighted Japan's generous contribution of N$25.3 million to support various activities under the project, aimed at improving the nutritional status of vulnerable communities across the country.

FAO Representative in Namibia, Qingyun Diao, highlighted the increasing realization among rural communities of the need to work extra hard to feed themselves amidst climate-induced impacts. She emphasized the importance of development partners redoubling efforts to provide technical and financial assistance to the most vulnerable, complementing government programs.

Over 1 525 households in the Zambezi region will benefit from the distributed equipment and irrigation systems. Governor Sampofu urged them to utilize these resources effectively to enhance food security at the national level. He also shared success stories of local farmers who capitalized on opportunities created by recent policy changes, demonstrating the potential for domestic food production.

Beneficiaries’ express gratitude

During a field mission to the Ohangwena region by the FAO-SFS SRC Patrice Talla, Julius Hitula, a smallholder farmer and project beneficiary from Okakwa village in Ohangwena, expressed his gratitude for FAO's support. Through the provision of irrigation systems and seeds, FAO has empowered Hitula to expand his farming operations and enhance his farm's resilience.

"I am very grateful for the support received from FAO. As a small-scale farmer, access to adequate resources is a huge challenge, but with this assistance, it's a push in the right direction for me. Although I still face some challenges, I am very inspired by such support."

Maddy Kakula of Mansanze Community Garden in Kongola, Zambezi region was equally grateful for the support. Maddy described the assistance as "an answered prayer," adding, "The seeds, tools, and technical support will undoubtedly make a difference in our lives."

the FAO led resilience building project is being implemented in partnership with the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Land Reform and is targeting 2 640 beneficiaries across four regions namely Zambezi, Kavango West, Ohangwena, and //Karas.