Project: Conservation Agriculture Program – Namibian Conservation Agriculture Project (NCAP)
Sector: agriculture and food security
Through its United States Agency for International Development (USAID)-funded program, NCBA CLUSA aims to mitigate the impact of drought and flood events in the crop growing communal areas of Namibia while increasing rainwater retention, soil fertility and crop productivity and resultant cash crop income. This is the goal of the Namibian Conservation Agriculture Project (NCAP), which plans to do it by training farmers in Conservation Agriculture techniques.
A prior Conservation Agriculture program in Namibia developed the techniques for proper ripping and furrowing of soil specific to the conditions in Northern Namibia. This to create a furrow that is 30 centimeters deep in order to collect as much rainwater as possible and also this breaks up the hard pan so that water can soak into the soil rather than runoff the top. With traditional tillage methods, Pearl millet yields average 300 kg per hectare, but with this conservation agriculture ripping technique, yields increase to an average of 1,670 kg per hectare.
The project will introduce Conservation Agriculture (CA) techniques to 10,800 farmers through a series of trainings conducted on demonstration plots in their areas. In addition to training farmers, the project will train 150 Community Draught Animal Power Promoters (CDAPPs) and 150 tractor drivers and tractor owners in Namibia Specific Conservation Tillage (NSCT) land preparation practices.
On May 2013, the president of Namibia declared a national drought emergency. The priority target regions for NCAP, where a substantial proportion of households rely on crop production, were all adversely affected by drought which led to crop failure. In many areas, crop yields are as much as 47% lower compared with last year’s harvest. The drought is also causing massive wind erosion of soils, particularly in uncovered crop fields and overgrazed land. However, farmers who applied conservation agriculture methods and early planting still enjoyed productive fields as ripping and furrowing and the hand hoe basin method creates in-field water harvesting and high moisture content in the furrows and basins. One NCAP Lead Farmer, Johannes Keshongo, who planted in the first week of November 2012 in a ripped and furrowed field recorded a bumper harvest of 4,660 kg of pearl millet per hectare. The average national yield in a “normal” year is 300 kg / ha from ploughed or disc harrowed fields.