ORFU calls for drought mitigation and preparedness courses

Omaheke Regional Farmers' Union (ORFU) has recommended that Namibian universities develop short courses on ways to survive through drought.

A Drought and Marketing Assessment Report availed to NAMPA on Tuesday stated that ORFU recommended a list of interventions for the drought situation one of which is the development of a training course for farmers in the drought by Namibian Universities.

The University of Namibia (UNAM) has a Bachelor of Science Honours in Agriculture where it covers drought and its effects in terms of livestock management as well as harvesting however this course take four years to complete.

Also, Masters of Science in Rangeland Resources and Management which is a year but requires an honours degree where strategies for drought feeding by explaining the nutrition aspects of drought feeding.

Although the Namibia of University of Science and Technology (NUST) does not outline, in its module description, that it addresses drought, its agricultural programmes does note that water is a scarce resource and they want to optimise it.

Responding to questions sent by NAMPA on Tuesday, NUST Registrar said the Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources Sciences is actively engaging in research, teaching and learning in addressing the challenges and needs, not only during the current drought relief, but on all challenges and opportunities within the field of agriculture in Namibia.

As an immediate response to the current drought the university is currently investigating the possibility of offering short training courses to farmers in Efficient use of underground water, Application on proper grazing management as well as Rural agribusiness entrepreneurship.

The main research areas are introducing climate smart agriculture techniques, Farming with drought resistant crops, Agroforestry and Desert agriculture and Permaculture (backyard gardening, hydroponic, and aquaponic systems).

Earlier this year, two NUST were conducting research of ways to conserve agriculture during the drought.

NUST Masters in Natural Resource Management student MwendalubiKalinda observed that despite the severe drought resulting in withered maize, most of the tree seedlings planted on trial sub-plots had survived and continued to grow.

Another NUST student, Salome Ngula during her research found that if you place ramial wood which you get by cutting leafy branches from nearby bushes and place it over the soil to avoid plant roots getting baked by the hot soil it retains moisture in the soil and feeds useful organisms living in the soil.

Source: Namibia Press Agency