The Farmers Support Project (FSP) is a means to empower farmers gain economic power by constantly transferring skills, knowledge and attitude through mentorship.
It was identified as a critical component for the successful implementation of the Land Reform Programme.
Critical issues addressed through the FSP include utilization of appropriate technology, credit utilization, marketing and forecasting marketing trends, sales timing, improved harvesting methods and record keeping for better decisions in order to become sustainable producers.
The FSP complements the Government’s extension services and other institutions’ services to farmers countrywide.
The FSP is a project of the Government of the Republic of Namibia, through the Ministry of Lands and Resettlement (MLR) with financial and technical support provided by the Government of the Federal Republic of Germany through the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH and co-funded by the Agricultural Bank of Namibia. Since January 2010 the Agricultural Bank of Namibia (Agribank) took over the implementation of the Farmers’ Support Project (FSP) in partnership with the Namibia Agricultural Union (NAU), the Namibia National Farmers’ Union (NNFU) and the Namibia Emerging Commercial Farmers’ Union (NECFU). Since November 2010, Agribank made own funds available for the expansion of project activities to the Northern communal Areas (NCAs) of Namibia. As such, Agribank annually contributes towards activities of the FSP in both the Northern Communal Areas (NCAs) as well as the areas south of the Veterinary Cordon Fence (VCF). The current phase of the Government of the Federal Republic of Germany funding will continue until June 2014. It is envisaged that FSP might be integrated into the structures of Agribank for continuation of the project beyond 2014.
To date Agribank has contributed N$9,469,200 since 2010 and the Government of German through GIZ has contributed N$15,092,772.
The FSP aims to achieve the following objectives:
(i) To enhance the competencies (knowledge, skills and attitude) of farmers,
(ii) To support farmers to improve their farming practices, and
(iii) To enhance the interface between farmers and service providers in the Agriculture Industry.
The impactof the FSP is measured on four (4)levels indicated in the figure below. This data is obtained from mentor reports and captured in a database maintained by the Office.
In order to enhance the competencies (knowledge, skills and attitude)of farmers towards commercial farming, the project make use of (i) mentors that are contracted on a yearly basis as Consultants in all thirteen (13) regions as livestock, horticulture or dry-land production experts, to provide mentoring inclusive of theory and practical on-field demonstrations focusing on recordkeeping measures to guide farmers in making responsible management decisions and (ii)support training related activities in both the areas South of the Veterinary Cordon Fence (SVCF) and in the Northern Communal Areas (NCA). This data is used to measure impact and is referred to as inputs (level 1).
The following tables represent the total number of farmers reached through mentoring and training related activities since 2010:
In order to support farmers to improve their farming practices, the project relies on the effectiveness of the mentor attached to the farmer as well as the training (both theory and practice) provided to the farmers through farmer information days, excursions and short courses. Experience have shown that farmers eagerly used this newly acquired knowledge and skills to
(i)incorporate improved bulls and rams in their herd,
(ii)improve animal husbandry practices (e.g. castration, vaccination, branding, dehorning, ear-tagging etc.),
(iii)provide lick and supplementation and rotate grazing,
(iv)apply selection of livestock for marketing,
(v)repair and maintain infrastructure (water installations, fencing, dams, kraals)
financial and livestock/horticulture/dry-land crop recordkeeping,
diversifying farming practices and income resources,
sustainable rangeland management,
testing for venereal diseases amongst bulls and rams and testing for their fertility,
determining of carrying capacity and the accompanied timely de-or re-stocking and
direct marketing to abattoirs is still some of the good management practices not so easily adopted or improved.
The improvement in farming practices is observed by the regional mentors and while visits by the office is conducted in the regions and this data is used to measure impact in terms of changes in farming practices (level 2).
In order to enhance the interface between farmers and service providers in the Agriculture Industry,the FSPsupports the hosting of regional stakeholders meetings which allows for farmer groups at regional level to regularly link up with public and private sector service providers whereby farmers identify challenges they are faced with at regional and at local level and with the participation of service providers joint solutions are developed and implemented.
In order to measure improved farm productivity it is expected of farmers to keep production records of their farming business with guidance and advise provided by the mentor. A positive change in farming practices (level 2)should normally lead to the increased ability of the farmer to improve his farm productivity (level 3).Thus a change in production & reproduction (meat production/ha, crop yield/ha, kg sold to markets, etc.) should be measurable if the necessary information is recorded in an orderly fashion and provided that a trust relationship is built between the farmer and the mentor. This is a huge challenge for the project since farmers are being mentored on a voluntary basis and with the introduction of record-keeping most farmers are reluctant to provide data questioning the motive behind this activity.
In order to measure increased income it is expected of farmers to keep financial records of their farming business with guidance and advise provided by the mentor. Improved farm productivity (level 3)should normally positively influence the income levels of farmers (level 4). Establishing a trust relationship between mentor and mentee takes time and thus proves to be very difficult to obtain in a short time frame. First verifiable information should be available by the end of the financial year.
The FSP is implemented by a Project Implementation Unit situated in the Agribank’s Head Office in Windhoek. The office can be reached at 061-2074278 or firstname.lastname@example.org