Livestock productivity has declined by 50% over the last 70 years, while profitability has declined due to a dwindling resource base.

According to the Namibia Agricultural Union (NAU), the 2018/2019 national drought brought home the vulnerability of the entire livestock value chain.

“The market was flooded, prices crashed, the quality of products offered declined and cash-strapped livestock owners have since struggled to rebuild herds.”

The union said the root cause of the degradation of rangelands in dry climates throughout the world is largely the same, while inappropriate management practices are exacerbated by climate change.

The solution lies in having well-managed ruminants, using regenerative rangeland management practices that consider the variability in forage production within and between seasons and applying measures that regenerate land in dry climates, it added.

Namibia’s rangeland problems include the loss of perennial grasses, extreme bush thickening, increased bare ground, high runoff from rainfall events and loss of production.

“But most importantly, all livestock keepers are increasingly becoming vulnerable to climate change. These same trends are seen throughout the drier parts of Africa in title-deed, as well as communal land.”

Regenerative movement

According to the NAU, the regenerative movement is a global one with all major economies developing regenerative policies, strategies, goals and incentives committed to healthier plants and more profitable farms producing healthier foods.

Regenerative agriculture can help farmers be more resistant to drought and improve their production per hectare.

It said the approaches developed to date regarding cover cropping are well developed; however, the solutions for rangeland management are more complex.

A cover crop is a plant that is used primarily to slow erosion, improve soil health, enhance water availability, smother weeds and help control pests and diseases.

“The solutions that are being developed in Namibia by innovative crop and livestock farmers are on the cutting edge of these solutions globally. The NAU therefore decided to document some of these successful regenerative farmers’ stories.”

Farmers need to show that they manage to maintain their herds, production, fertility and profitability before, during and after the drought, the union said.

It added that farmers reading these stories may well be inspired to develop their own innovations or apply some of the tried and tested methods.

“If successfully upscaled, the entire value chain will become more resilient and more prosperous and will produce better quality animals and crops more consistently. The implementation of these practices will also contribute to improved ecosystem services as well as sequester large amounts of carbon – thereby contributing to climate change mitigation.”

According to the NAU, the Regenerative Livestock Production Project can now be found on its website.

[Source – Republikein]

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