Agribank unpacks the benefits of heavy rains in food production
By Clifton Movirongo.
The Agricultural Bank of Namibia (Agribank) has advised farmers to be more innovative this year and indicated that although the recent heavy rainfall may have caused damage to some extent, there are beneficial outcomes to it.
This is according to Agribank’s, Hanks Saisai, who is a Technical Advisor for crops and poultry at Agribank’s Agri Advisory Service Division.
Saisai said the rains have brought the much needed moisture to soils in which crops are grown, adding that this will stimulate rapid crop growth as long as the crop fields are not submerged in water for extended periods of more than 2 weeks.
He highlighted that the rainfall has ensured that most water dams on farms are full to capacity, which will aid farmers to provide water to their livestock and crop fields or gardens throughout the dry season.
He also added that the wet weathers guarantee that most grazing lands on both commercial farms and communal areas are replenished with good grazing that can be utilized by the livestock for the entire year until the next rainy season.
“For the innovative farmers, the heavy rains have encouraged them to start harvest fresh grass next to the roads and store it for use in the dry season. In some areas, season gardens can be established as water availability in water scarce areas is making crop and vegetable production possible,” Saisai revealed to the Economist.
The technical advisor further explained that all of these aspects will see the country’s agricultural sector recording good crop harvest and an increased number of livestock produced on the natural pastures of Namibia.
He also shed light on how farmers prepared for the current rainy season. “Around October, the communal farmers who are dependent on rainfall to produce crops already got manure from kraals and distributed it in their crop fields to increase soil fertility. Farmers who rely on ploughing services had to register for ploughing services in advance. They also started tilling their fields as soon as the first rains fell,” Saisai explained.
The possible drawbacks that are brought about by the heavy rains are waterlogged conditions for crop fields that are dominated by clay soils among others.
“Pests and weeds are likely going to be an issue that farmers must be prepared to deal with and hence there will be need for farmers to start weeding their crop fields as soon as unwanted plants start growing and they must scout their crop field regularly to ensure that no pests destroy their crops. Livestock farmers are warned that internal parasites and external parasites may increase, therefore, there will be a need to vaccinate against parasites. Cold stress may be experienced by small-stock (goats & sheep) hence farmers must ensure that shelter is provided,” he concluded.