Zambezi dryland maize growers have an unfair advantage – rain!
Last year, Namibian white maize producers harvested almost 77,000 tonnes with the result that only 50,000 tonnes were imported. Only four years ago, the ratios looked remarkably different. Then, local production reached only 36,700 tonnes and more than 170,000 tonnes had to be imported.
This dramatic shift in local productive capacity is in part due to a range of strategies employed by the Namibian Agronomic Board and the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry, to improve farming practices and to increase yields. Ons such initiative is the annual awards to honour the achievements of the best farmers.
Earlier this week, a husband and wife team from Sibbinda in the Zambezi region received the award for the Communal Dryland Maize Champion Farmer of the Year. Mr and Mrs Lifasi Munsu were named the best white maize producers with Mr Lukatezi Kulobone from Linyanti in second position.
The awards were conferred at a special ceremony at the University of Namibia’s Multi-purpose Centre in Katima Mulilo. This year was the 10th anniversary of these acclaimed producer awards, intended to encourage good farming practices to increase maize acreage and yields.
Zambezi Governor, Hon Alfea Sampofu congratulated the winners for their hard work that led to their recognition. He encouraged crop farmers to consult the Agricultural Extension Officers for assistance and expert advice on the types of seed and fertilizers that are suitable for their land.
“We need to stop relying on neighbouring countries to feed us, the Zambezi region has fertile soil and abundance of water that could potentially serve as one of the bread baskets of Namibia in providing food security for the country,” he said.
The awards competition is scored using several factors such as yield, production methods and inputs. Crop and labour management, marketing, financial management and record keeping are also taken into consideration.
All dry-land maize producers from the five communal maize producing regions, Zambezi, Kavango East, Kavango West, Otjozondjupa and Omaheke can participate in the competition through their agricultural extension offices.
Vice Chairperson of the Agronomic Board, Dr Marina Muller, said although Namibia currently imports most of its white maize through formal markets, much progress has been made with various initiatives by the board and the agriculture ministry to improve production and market regulation.
The board’s new Chief Executive, Dr Fidelis Mwazi highlighted the importance of smart agricultural methods, encouraging farmers and potential farmers as well as farmer unions to take advantage of climate and soil conditions to maximize grain production.
Caption: Celebrating outstanding white maize yields, from the left, Hon. Alfea Sampofu, the Governor of Zambezi region, Mr and Mrs Munsu, the 2018 National Communal Dry-Land Maize Champions, Dr Marina Muller, Vice Chairperson of the Namibian Agronomic Board, Dr Fidelis Mwazi, the board’s Chief Executive and Dr Kevin Mukata of the Zambezi Regional Council.