Dry Land Crop Production – 500 – 1 000 Percent Yield Increase!

Windhoek — Climate change is possibly the most real threat to food security and we cannot do anything about it. Poor traditional ploughing methods result in unproductive soils, not able to capture and retain moisture from erratic and unpredictable rain fall.

Says Gerhard Baufeldt, owner of Baufis Agricultural Services, who have been closely involved with the development of agricultural implements. He recently visited Senegal where he met senior government officials and communal farmers, demonstrating his innovative Namibian-built ripper/furrower and planters of which he sold. While there, he also gave lectures on his machinery and practical demonstrations. “The system was introduced with astonishing results. Further projects are signed for in Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger. These implements are to be used in dry land crop production and drawn by animal or tractor,” he informs Farmers’ Forum.

The implements assist farmers to maximise yield potential of their field if they switch to conservation agriculture or “Crop Multiplication System” (CMS). “It is important that farmers apply the CMS on crop production where sustainability is emphasised. Dry land crop production has been applied in northern Namibia with an average of 350 – 400 mm of summer rain fall. Yields have decreased over the years to a low of 350kg and less mahangu (Pearl Millet) per ha. The introduction of CMS has increased yields to levels of 2500 – 3000 kg/ha and recently to as much as 4 660kg Millet/ha. This is even more significant as the rainfall has been as low as 180 mm through the whole season 2013. “We at Baufi’s Agricultural Services are able to supply the implement (ripper/furrower) for soil preparation as well as planter for seeding corn, been, millet and sunflower. We are also available to train tractor operators as well as farmers how to apply CMS practically,” he notes.

During 2013 Baufi’s supplied implements to Senegal, USAID Yaajeende Project.

The correct use of this system assist farmer in many ways like reducing labour, increasing yields, assuring sustainable high yields with less weed, no use of chemical insecticides of herbicides and minimising wind/ water /soil erosion, ensuring ational food security and educe urbanisation

For more information Gerhard Baufeldt can be reached at Baufi’s Agricultural Services P.O.Box 90390 Windhoek, Tel: 061 – 269 075, Fax: 061 – 269 075 or email: baufeld@iway.na Fabian von Hase Case Study

The study was conducted by interviewing 13 Conservation Agriculture (CA) farmers, three non-CA farmers, two extension officers, one regional counsellor and one tractor owner.

Interviews were held at homesteads and in offices in and around Ondangwa from January to March 2013. The reason why this study placed emphasis on the opinions of farmers was that it aimed to facilitate increased adoption of CA, thereby improving subsistence livelihoods. Only by listening to farmers describing their problems will it be possible to derive appropriate solutions to help improve their lives.

Through the interviews it was found that farmers held positive attitudes towards CA, and therefore, had the intention to adopt it. This was mostly because of easier weeding and better yields, even in drought years. Once people around a CA farmer saw the method in their field, they became interested and supportive of CA. Therefore, it was socially and culturally acceptable to do CA. Farmers found it easy to learn about CA and to implement it and they felt empowered by its results. As a whole, farmers had strong intentions to adopt CA.

However, the availability of tractors for ripping the land posed a problem. This prevented most farmers from adopting CA, even though they wanted to. Furthermore, farmers said that CA helped them to have enough food (and to sell some), improved their personal dignity, facilitated peace in the house and thereby enabled them to be proud farmers. These were important values and goals and by fulfilling them, CA gained support from farmers. Respondents also said that information on the method was easily obtained from CA projects and farmer meetings, the radio or established CA farmers.

Even though many said that CA was the only alternative to the old methods, it was assessed positively by seeing the improved yields in other people’s fields. Farmers often decided to try CA immediately upon hearing about its better yields but they adopted it in increments to limit their risks if the method should fail. Failure of CA was however not reported by farmers. Instead, their expectations of yields were generally exceeded. They also found no problems with implementing CA. Thus, they were very happy with the method and all wanted to continue or even expand the area under CA. Overall, farmers easily decided to adopt CA and were content with the method once they had done so.

A large market for provision of ripping services by private tractor owners has been established to exist. New financing options from Kongalend (a financing institution) and the Agribank are becoming available to purchase tractors and rippers. If tractor owners and investors could be persuaded to buy ripping implements, they could help decrease the lack of ripping services and thereby boost the adoption of CA. Another factor helping adoption was the strong interest from farmers, as well as government support for the method. However, inefficiencies in the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry (MAWF) structure inhibit it from delivering ripping services. A lack of funds and support for extension officers and counsellors promoting CA is also hindering the government from successfully supporting CA.

Therefore, CA will need to be promoted by NGO’s and the private sector. This is especially urgent in the provision of ripping services to farmers already doing CA, and those that want to adopt it. Judging by its current performance, government is unlikely to meet the ripping needs of the large number of farmers across the North. Therefore, the private sector needs to be encouraged to fill the gap. To motivate existing and prospective tractor owners to invest in ripping implements and provide services to CA farmers the following need to doing:

Non-governmental Orgnaisations (NGOs) and the government should provide tractor owners with information on business opportunities and put them in contact with farmers. The government needs to clarify its strategy of land preparation provision to farmers. At the moment it is promising land preparation for farmers at below market prices (when ripped by government tractor) and subsidised prices (by private tractor). Neither the land preparation by government tractor nor the subsidy for private tractor owners is effective, leading to the discouragement of the private sector and farmers not receiving ripping services.

Therefore, it is recommended that government provide the ripping services it is promising (or stop promising them) as well as encourage the private sector through improving the subsidy system, and avoiding competition with it through unrealistic prices. Lastly, it is suggested that NGOs and the MAWF offer continuous training to farmers on CA. This would enable farmers to establish and run farmer to farmer learning networks that would spread the NSCT????????? method across the North.

Even though many said the CA was the only alternative to the old methods, it was assessed positively by seeing the improved yields in other peoples’ fields. Farmers often decided to try CA immediately upon hearing about its better yields, but they adopted it in increments to limit their risks if the method should fail. Failure of CA was however not reported by farmers. Instead, their expectations of yields were generally exceeded.

They also found no problems with implementing CA. Thus, they were very happy with the method and all wanted to continue or even expand the area under CA. Overall, farmers easily made the decision to adopt CA and were content with the method once they had done so. There was found to be a large market for provision of ripping services by private tractor owners.

Therefore, it is recommended that the government should provide the ripping services it is promising (or stop promising them) as well as encourage the private sector by improving the subsidy system and avoiding competition with it through unrealistic prices. Lastly, it is suggested that NGOs and the MAWF offer continuous training to farmers on CA. This would enable farmers to establish and run farmer-to-farmer learning networks that would spread the NSCT method across the North.