FAO in Namibia

International Year of Soils events 2015


Namibian Agronomic Board National Horticulture Day, Noordoewer, Namibia

Every year the Namibian Agronomic Board (NAB) brings together the horticulture industry to publicly recognize the hard work, innovation and ingenuity of producers in their efforts to provide the Namibian market with locally produced fresh fruit and vegetables. In accordance with the International Year of Soils 2015, the theme for the 2015 National Horticulture Day was “Soil – building a productive, food secure Namibia from the ground up” and efforts with producers for the year will be focused on the improvement of soils, their management, health and value in producing crops that are nutritious, sustainable and beneficial to ecosystems.

To this end the NAB organized a day of training for small and medium scale producers on 22 September, followed by the celebration of the National Horticulture Day on 23 September at the Amanzi River Camp in Noordoewer, Namibia. The FAO was represented by Ms Liesl Wiese, soil scientist and FAO Consultant for the African Soil Partnership, who gave training on the importance of soil organic matter during the farmer training. Namibia is characterized by very sandy soils which increases the importance of soil organic matter build up in agricultural soils to increase soil water holding, soil aeration and nutrient retention in the root zone for increased soil fertility. During the National Horticulture Day, Ms Wiese explained the global importance soils for food production, the establishment of the Global Soil Partnership, and the celebration of the International Year of Soils.

The National Horticulture Day was attended by roughly 150 people ranging from local producers to members of the NAB, the Agro-Marketing and Trade Agency, Agribusdev and representatives of the //Kharas Region. The Minister of Agriculture, Water and Forestry, Honourable John Mutorwa, was unable to attend and his presentation was given by the Chair of the NAB, Ms Sirkka Iileka.

The event was held close to the farm of the Large Scale Category winner for production, Mr Albert van der Merwe, Sonop farm, Noordoewer and the afternoon of the 23rd was spent with Mr Van der Merwe sharing production best practices for the large scale production of tomatoes at Sonop Farms. Sonop produces tomatoes, butternuts, green peppers for the Namibian and South African markets and table grapes for export. Van der Merwe said that the soil at Sonop is his focus at the moment. He considers the soil to be his biggest asset and the soil needs to be productive for generations to come. In addition to crop rotation, Van der Merwe plants cover crops that are incorporated into the soil as green manure. He will further focus on producing his own compost to keep his soil in top producing condition.