Namibia’s rangelands at a crossroads

By: Deon Schlechter

Windhoek: The production and resilience of Namibia’s rangelands is at an all-time low.

Bertus Kruger, Agra’s Provision Technical Advisor: Rangeland Management, warns about the situation while reflecting on the current status of Namibia’s rangelands in terms of the water cycle, mineral cycle, and biodiversity when he acted as one of the main speakers at last week’s Livestock Producers Organisation (LPO)’s congress in Windhoek.

He says that the principles of good rangeland management is contained in the National Rangeland Management Policy and Strategy. Rangeland management has mainly to do with preventing overstocking and overgrazing. He focuses on the difference between these two concepts from the plant physiology angle and provides a brief overview of some of the main rangeland management systems currently being implemented in Namibia linking them back to the principles of sound rangeland management. “We have to take into account the fact that in many places rangeland is already so much degraded by bush encroachment, that a national effort is needed to reverse the situation,” he notes.

To counter the continues struggle of Namibian farmers, Agra ProVision and Agri-Ecological Services recently hosted a stakeholder workshop “Rangeland Early Warning and Monitoring System project”. The three-year Rangeland Early Warning and Monitoring System project is funded under the European Union “Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation, including Energy” programme. The project’s objective is to enhance the ability of livestock farmers, support agencies and policy makers to make decisions based on timely and accurate information regarding the state and productivity of their rangelands to reduce vulnerability caused by droughts, or other adverse climatic conditions.

Kruger reflected on the importance and relevance of the project, saying: “The current veld condition is poor and mainly dominated by annual grasses. Over the long term, there is a need to improve the condition and productivity of the veld, in terms of preventing soil erosion and nutrient depletion, improved water infiltration, and improving veld condition in terms of increasing the proportion of perennial grasses and addressing the negative effects of bush encroachment. Therefore, it is imperative that organisations like Agra ProVision and Agri-Ecological Services work on educating the stakeholders and creating smart methods to assist and help the vital farming community of Namibia,” Kruger notes.