IREMA project hosts horticulture production training

• By Confidente Reporter

The IREMA Project hosted a training of trainers on Horticulture Production in Khorixas, Kunene region recently.

According to a press release, the training highlighted on techniques to reduce vulnerability and improving food security through drought tolerant crops.

“The agricultural sector still remains the central lives of the large part of the Namibia population and hence agricultural production and a lack of timely access to quality certified seeds, and also farm machinery/equipment necessary for effective land preparation, planting, weeding, harvesting and transportation vehicles have hugely impacted the livelihoods of Namibians in general and more specifically in the drought stricken Kunene region,” the statement detailed.

Charlie Mwaetako, chief agricultural officer of the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Land Reform in Kunene thanked the Environmental Investment Fund and IREMA Project for unveiling funding for the training of lead farmers.

He further alluded that the situation of crop production in Kunene is critical as the region has hazard-prone areas, where poor and vulnerable farmers may not even have access to the traditional sources of seed of their preferred varieties and are not well acquainted with planting and hence the training provides an opportunity for them to learn and to become leading farmers.

Leading the facilitation of the training was Dr Lydia Ndinelao Horn, senior lecturer and researcher at the University of Namibia.

Horn denoted in her facilitation that “there is a need to diversify crop production and depending on seasons”. She is also alluded to the fact that in order increase resilience of farming systems to the various disasters or human induced hazards farmers need to get an opportunity to get seeds of various crops that can perform under the challenging conditions the region is experiencing.

The training was aimed at providing skills that empower farmers with knowledge on horticulture production and to improve their cropping practices. This was done through the following sub-topics: The easiest way of growing vegetables, Reasons for owning your garden, Different ways of planting vegetables, Ideal conditions for creating a vegetable garden, Soil management, Insect/Pest management, Weed management, Water management, Harvesting, Post-harvest and storage, Grading and packaging and Marketing of produce.

One of the trained farmers, Charles Boois was ecstatic about the training, “I will surely make sure that I empower surrounding farmers in my area and I will ensure that with the skills attained that I improve on my plantation skills and move towards planting seasonal crops instead of the same crops over and over again.”

The training brought together 45 farmers that were chosen from the Sesfontein Constituency and Khorixas District to be the lead farmers that are being trained so that they can go and train other community members upon completion.

The training also saw five extension officers from the Ministry of Agriculture as the ministry is jointly implementing the IREMA Project with the Environmental Investment Fund of Namibia that is accredited to the Green Climate Fund.

The selected farmers that attended the training have in the past received agroforestry seedlings and will in this year received drip irrigation materials to assist them with their horticulture production.

The training also shared mechanisms and techniques that enhance crop varieties that produce higher yields during a shorter growing period and that implored participants to use cowpea that is associated with adding nitrogen to the soil hence reducing the need for nitrogen fertilisers and therefore boosting soil fertility and providing more crops.

Delivering closing remarks Lot Ndamanomhata, EIF manager for corporate communications encouraged the lead farmers to ensure that they go back to their communities and share the knowledge attained from the training.

He further said that the farmers should procure goods from each other in order to ensure that the ripple effect of their produce remains within their communities as this will lead to not only improvement in their livelihoods but also generate possible incomes for individuals and homesteads.

The training concluded with a demonstration at the garden of one of the participants. This practical demonstration gave farmers an opportunity to do practical training on how to plant seeds as practical experience is required for lead farmers to go and teach others.