Cabinet has authorised the Office of the Prime Minister to advance N$33.1 million to financially struggling Agribusdev for the production of fodder at state-owned green scheme projects to minimise the effects of the current drought that has ravaged large parts of the country and left many farmers destitute.
Ministry of Information and Communication Technology Executive Director, Mbeuta Ua-Ndjarakana, announced Thursday that the N$33.1 million to be disbursed from the National Emergency Disaster Fund will be recouped when the government buys fodder from Agribusdev.
About 30 percent of the land under irrigation at the green scheme projects has been earmarked for fodder production in order to combat the effects of the current drought, regarded as the worst in 90 years.
According to Ua-Ndjarakana, the government advanced N$10.4 million to Agribusdev on 12 September to guarantee the production of fodder and ensure uninterrupted supply during the drought period.
Coupled with fodder production at the green schemes, Cabinet also directed the ministry of agriculture to conduct further research on the alternative production of livestock supplements including hydroponic fodder production and bush to feed/biomass.
In the meantime, Cabinet has supported the introduction and promotion of a non-mechanised hydroponic system at a subsistence level.
As part of this scheme, communal farmers will receive a 50 percent subsidy when constructing a small scale hydroponic fodder production unit.
They will also benefit from a 50 percent subsidy when procuring seeds such as barley, maize, sorghum, and wheat.
Cabinet also agreed to fund a capacity building programme for extension staff and farmers on hydroponic fodder production systems introduced by Agritech Namibia in partnership with the Namibia National Farmers Union (NNFU).
It was not immediately clear how much has been set aside for this project.
Hydroponic fodder production has been described as a game-changer in animal husbandry because of its ability to produce fodder in seven days.
Farmers can produce up to a tonne of feed using around 600-700 litres of water which can be recycled to produce a further 9 tonnes.
The government wants farmers to produce fodder for themselves after it was demonstrated that it stands to save considerably when farmers are trained and can produce fodder for themselves.
Hydroponics is a new method of farming that is responsive to changing climate conditions that Namibia is currently experiencing.
From germination to harvest, the process takes seven days, but if you are going to feed chickens, the process is shorter - you can harvest after four days.