Agra Information Days Provide Fedback On MCA-N Projects

Agra ProVision hosted two information days to provide feedback on the on the fully-funded Millennium Challenge Account Namibia (MCA-N) projects, the Baseline Survey of Animal Nutrition and Sero-Epidemiological and Parasite Survey in livestock. This is part of the division’s mission to train and mentor stakeholders in the agricultural sector on the conditions of animal health and nutrition in Northern Communal Areas (NCAs) of Namibia.

The information days were held in Oshakati and Rundu on Monday March 10 and Friday, March 14 respectively, and were attended by livestock producers, representatives from the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry, representatives from industry and the general public. The participants appreciated Agra’s efforts and made valuable recommendations on how the situation in the NCA can be improved.

The Governors of Oshana and Kavango opened the information days and empahsised the importance of MCA interventions and how it positively contributes to growth of agriculture in the Northern Communal Areas and Namibia at large. Hon. Clemens Kashuupulwa, Governor of Oshana region applauded all the stakeholders involved in the implementation of the MCA funded projects.”The information and research findings shared with us here today will enable us to plan better and improve the quality of lives in the NCA. This is an important step in achieving Vision 2030. We therefore appreciate the efforts and hard work that Agra and other stakeholders have vested in this project by supporting an ecological and economically sustainable value chain for agricultural production and rural development,” he said. He also reminded the participants that this is a wakeup call to start implementing solutions.

MCA regional coordinator of the NCA Moses Shambwila gave a brief presentation on MCA’s achievements in the Agricultural sector since inception in 2008. The MCA-N provides grant funding for public investments into agriculture, education and tourism. He said, “The Agricultural budget of US$ 47 million assisted in implementing the Marketing infrastructure designs, Baseline Study of Animal Nutrition, Sero-epidemiological and Parasite Study and Informal Meat Off-Take Study. The projects have been successfully implemented and are all coming to a close before September. All these interventions compliment the overall MCA goal to reduce poverty in rural areas of Namibia.”

Giving feedback on the rangeland condition in the NCA, Dr Axel Rothauge said the rangeland was found to be losing its ecological standing in Kaokoland Agro-Ecological Zone (AEZ) and degraded in all other AEZ. “The findings indicate that after the drought, the rangeland condition will stabilise at the next lower level, which means that livestock productivity will drop and NCA farmers will become poorer, unless some recommendations are implemented,” he said. Dr Rothauge also presented the findings on the nutrient status of livestock in the NCA. He stated that there are widespread nutritional deficiencies in cattle and goats in all AEZ at all times of the year. To improve the situation, farmers are encouraged to supplement the grazing with minerals in the form of licks to enhance production and reproduction in all livestock.

The animal health results in the NCA’s were presented by Dr Rainer Hassel, Agra’s Technical Aisor for Animal Health and also the project manager of the Sero-Epidemiological and Parasite Survey in livestock in the Northern Communal Areas of Namibia. Through this project, they collected serum samples of 4000 cattle and 2000 goats from Zambezi, Kavango, Kunene, Omusati and Oshikoto regions. The results indicate that in all regions, livestock is infected with internal parasites, coccidian and Bovine Virus Diarrhoea (BVD) that weakens the immune system of livestock. He recommends that “more comparative studies must be conducted to determine whether the different vaccines available are effective to improve the productivity and the general health of animals.”In his concluding remarks, he said that the factors affecting fertility, reproduction and livestock immune system are nutritional deficiencies, internal parasites and Bovine Virus Diarrhoea (in cattle).

At the same events, participants were introduced to the low pressure Drip Irrigation Kits, considered the latest technology to improve vegetable production, especially in arid areas. Danie Marais, Technical Aisor: Agronomy and Horticulture from Agra ProVision presented and demonstrated how the technology operates.

Twaku Kayofa, Communication amp PR Officer of Agra ProVision applauded all the stakeholders who took time out of their busy schedules to attend these informative session. “I thank all the stakeholders for attending the information days, because the information generated through the MCA-mechanism is relevant to the livestock producers in the NCA and will help the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry (MAWF) and other affected parties to plan better and improve the situation,” he said. He continued by saying, “Agra ProVision has a keen interest in the successful development of Namibia’s communal areas into viable and profitable regions, thu, we will continue hosting information sessions to share relevant information and strategies on how we can overcome the challenges.”

The projects fall under the Agriculture pillar of MCA and were conducted in the Northern Communal Areas (NCA) of Namibia, with the professional implementing agent being Agra ProVision. They have been executed over the past three years (since inception in 2011) with the aim to assist in the development of the agricultural sector, specifically targeting the reduction of poverty through efficient livestock production.

Source : New Era