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Rangeland management for cattle owners in communal areas

Combined herding of cattle has multiple advantages and herders play a key role in the well being of both livestock and grass (Photograph by Christine Skowski).

Combined herding of cattle has multiple advantages and herders play a key role in the well being of both livestock and grass (Photograph by Christine Skowski).

The Community Based Rangeland Livestock Management (CBRLM) programme of the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry (MAWF) is a pilot project supported by the Millenium Challenge Account (MCA)
In 21 pilot areas across the Kunene, Omusati, Oshana, Oshikoto, Ohangwena and Okavango regions, experts and field facilitators show farmers the benefits of combining livestock of different owners around one water point into one large herd which is herded according to a grazing plan to fresh grazing every day by trained herders. The size of the combined herds range from just over 200 to over 1500 cattle.
Communal farmers who started practising CBRLM six years ago in the Kunene region, as well as farmers who have only started 12 months ago, report of the multiple benefits they have experienced from adopting the revolving grazing schedule. Livestock get sufficient water and a more even nutrition over the whole year and the herders prevent theft and losses from predators and they can spot health problems quickly. These problems are then reported to the owners and treated quickly. Both the condition and reproduction of the animals have improved.
More calves are born and stay alive due to the better care and protection by the herders. Livestock damages to crop fields are minimized and in some areas livestock is kraaled overnight in already harvested crop fields to improve the soil for the next planting season.
In most CBRLM grazing areas farmers share the wages of herders and the cost for water pumping and animal medicine.The CBRLM field facilitators help the grazing area committees with training and facilitation for budgeting, accounting and self-monitoring these “grazing area funds”. The most important and high-return investment a livestock owner can make is into the services of dedicated and qualified herders.
Through the CBRLM programme farmers now know from personal experience that it is not only the amount and distribution of rain that determine the productivity of the grass and their animals, but also the management of grazing and livestock that makes the difference.
This is confirmed by Mr Siegfried Schneider, a leading commercial farmer in the Grootfontein district and the chairperson of the Livestock Producers Organization as well as chair of the working group that drafted the recently adopted National Rangeland Management Policy and Strategy of the Namibian government. At a certification ceremony held in December last year, he congratulated the stakeholders in the CBRLM programme in helping to link the environmental protection stipulated in the Namibian constitution and rangeland management policy with a practical strategy for improving livestock and healing degraded land.

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