Conservation agriculture boosts Mayana harvest

27 May 2016 | Environment

Fifty-three farmers in Mayana village in the Kavango East Region, who have implemented a conservation agriculture system, are optimistic that they will have good harvest, despite poor and late rainfall.
This system was introduced to the community of Mayana in 2014, as a climate adaptation strategy aimed at mitigating the effects of poor, late or heavy rainfall during short periods of time, as well as extended periods of drought.
The system assists farmers to conserve water in their crop fields, while using a small piece of land for cultivation, which will help them gain a good harvest, rather than using the traditional larger fields.
It started with 14 farmers, who then grew to 53, after a good harvest was experienced.
Andreas Kamukwanyama of Namibia Resources Consultants is the project coordinator of the system.
He said the system is best for insufficient rainfall, compared to the traditional dry-crop and slash and burn practices, which also damages the soil.
“We concentrate on a small piece of land that we prepare using two Tyne ripper furrower tractors with wings, which make lower and upper levels in the field that conserve water. We then mix seed and fertilisers and sow them in lines on the upper level. During rain, the lower level can keep water for up to two weeks,” Kamukwanyama explained.
He said the system is suitable for the current climate of lower rainfall, because the hard ploughs they use add value to the soil. It destroys the solid soil layer caused by the usual traditional way of ploughing and makes it smooth and suitable for cultivation. Training is done in a demo plot field, where they cultivate mahangu and maize, which they sell after harvest.
Marcus Kamburu, who has benefited from the system, described it as harvesting booster.
“When people saw our harvest last year, they decided to join the project, and most of their fields are looking promising this year. This year is a dry year, but I am expecting a harvest of 2.2 tonnes of maize and 2.2 tonnes of mahangu.
“The harvest is not good in the fields of those who use the dry crop system,” Kamburu said.
Mayana village headman Shinimbo Berthold said he supports the initiative and encouraged his villagers to implement it. Mayana village has 243 houses and a population of 2 013 inhabitants.
This project is monitored and supported by Biodiversity and Climate Change (BMCC), the Southern Africa Regional Environmental Programme (SAREP), The Future Okavango (TFO) and the Southern Africa Science Services Centre for Climate Change Adaptive Land Use (SASSCAL)

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