The Namibian Organic Association (NOA) and the Namibia Nature Foundation (NNF) conducted a horticulture training to various small-scale farmers and farmer-trainers from 23-30 September 2021.
Two incredible Namibian facilitators, Mr Erastus Ndungu from Lima Farms in Katima, a commercial organic vegetable producer, agroforestry specialist and facilitator, as well as Mrs Wiebke Volkmann, from Earth Wise Enterprise, an accredited holistic management trainer, long term community facilitator and passionate organic gardener, over the 3 workshops managed to train over 79 small-scale farmers around Rundu, Kongola and Katima Mulilo.
This was done through one of the in-country activities for the Knowledge Hub for Organic Agriculture in Southern Africa (KH SA) project that aims to promote the adoption and scaling-up of organic agriculture in Namibia.
Mareike Aufderheide-Voigts, Namibian Project Manager, who holds a degree in B.Sc Organic Agriculture and M.Sc. Sustainable International Agriculture from the University of Kassel, Witzenhausen, Germany, shared that the participants stressed, that the training has given them valuable insights to improve their own production as well as sharing these benefits with others.
The KCOA project is strengthening networks along different organic value chains, and this especially includes communal farmers, who produce under severe resource constraints. Under traditional farming practices yields are often low and risks for failure. Organic agriculture principles aim at making farming more resilient, diverse, and healthy. It is a low-input system relying on natural principles and locally available resources.
Participants indicated that the training was very informative and insightful. One participant stated: “I now know that the soil is not just dirt, it is living and if we look after the soil we can produce well.” And another participant shared: “I have made compost before, but the way I learned it today makes it much easier and practical. I will go home and make my compost this way”.
The (KH SA) is a collaborative country-led partnership funded by the German Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and implemented by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH. It is one of five Knowledge Hubs for Organic Agriculture, under the Knowledge Centre for Organic Agriculture in Africa programme, pursuing the goal of disseminating knowledge and shaping a network on national, regional, and continental levels.
This activity aimed to increase nutrition security in the target areas, grow the number of organic farmers and volume of organic food produced in Namibia and as stated by NOAs Chairperson, Mr Eckhart Foertsch, “Organic agriculture is an inclusive approach to certified and non-certified organic agriculture production systems such as conservation agriculture; regenerative, biodynamic, biological and ecological farming; permaculture, agro-ecology and agroforestry systems, as well as climate smart and climate resilient production systems.”
The next steps, to ensure the sustainability of the knowledge gained during the workshop, are to support participants to build their own compost heaps and therefore enable them to produce a high-quality soil improver. This is crucial on the sandy soils in the target area. The farmers will be supported by local NNF staff.
To reduce the labour and water demands some farmers opted for creating a sheltered area in their kraals, where a continuous composting process of manure and dry organic matter can happen throughout the year. The KCOA project is aiming at training the same group of participants on organic principles in rain fed crop production in the month of November.