Expert Re-Emphasise the Lifting of Red Line

To redressing low livestock productivity (e.g. offtake from its beef cattle herd of some 6 percent) and degraded rangelands the situation in the Northern Communal Areas (NCAs) requires the lifting of the Veterinary Cordon Fence (VCF) to allow normal market forces to pull production and product quality in the desired direction.

This also requires support by re-dedicated and intensified veterinary monitoring services. Highlighting the importance of the removal of the fence also known as the Red Line, foremost rangeland expert and independent consultant, Dr Axel Rothauge last week stressed the fact that archaic production methods need to be replaced by appropriate modern methods and technologies. He addressed the 18th Namibian Rangeland Forum here organised by the Southern African Science Service Centre for Climate Change and Adaptive Landscape Management.

Rothauge emphasise the establishment of dry-land cultivated pastures of indigenous, perennial, desirable grazing grasses in privately-owned areas (e.g. “ekove” or expanded crop fields) to encourage individual management responsibility and avoid open access. Cultivated grass pastures can support 3-8 times the grazing pressure of native rangeland. “One kilogram of grass is worth N$0.38 net beef income (2013), thus pastures significantly increase ranching incomes. Good pasture managers will be able to expand cattle production vertically – an important “pull” factor. Hence, cultivated pastures should relieve grazing pressure on native range opening a window of opportunity to rehabilitate degraded natural rangelands,” he says adding that another technology is mineral supplementation of livestock in mineral-deficient areas widespread in the NCA. Returns of N$2.60 (winter) to N$7.50 (summer) on every N$1 invested in lick supplements in commercial areas are common.

Rothauge names a third technology that could halt desertification in the NCAs as the planting of drought-tolerant fodder shrubs in severely eroding areas. Fourthly, transition towards sustainably higher livestock ranching productivity would have to be supported by intensive farmer training and mentoring, time-limited targeted subsidies of farming inputs and preferential procurement of locally-produced products. “These and similar structural changes would place Namibia’s communal areas firmly on the path to Vision 2030,” he concludes.

Source : New Era