Paulus Hamutenya takes a close look at the tomato plant in his field. With his hands he feels the texture of the stems and leaves on the plant – nodding with distinct approval at the combination of quality, colour and thickness. “The organic fertilizer we have tried out for the last 2 months is definitely working”, he remarks with inevitable pride.
Paulus is one of close to 65 farmers at the Olushandja Horticulture Producer’s Association (OHPA). Horticulture producers located along the banks of the Etaka Dam in the Onesi constituency, Omusati Region. The main aim of the association is to contribute to the agricultural sector in Namibia by cultivating crops for individual income, creating employment opportunities in the area and enhancing horticultural skills among the individual members.
While the area has long been earmarked as an agricultural hotbed with the potential of meeting Namibia’s overall food demand, the negative impacts of a gradually changing climate cannot be overlooked. As a local that relies on the land for his livelihood, Paulus is quickly accepting a change in practice. “Firstly, with the increasing number of farmers we would obviously need a whole lot more water; so there was added pressure on the dam to provide water for all 65 farmers. The level of the dam has also been decreasing year on year due to poor rainfall”, he reveals.
Secondly, unsustainable cropping methods such as the use of chemical fertilizer have long been documented as a catalyst to the degradation and loss in soil structure. Furthermore lack of rainfall coupled with increasing temperatures has increased general evaporation rates and drought incidences in the country. This has increased the vulnerabilities of farmers and driven a genuine need to adopt climate resilience.
The OHPA applied for grant nancing through the Environmental Investment Fund (EIF) of Namibia to enable them to implement a conservation agriculture project. This project encompasses the broad areas of effective use of water through the use of drip irrigation methods and organic fertilizer to maintain soil fertility, retain soil quality and improve the water-holding capacity of the soil. This grant financing has enabled the association to build capacity among members on the use of relevant climate-smart technology, improve the association’s storage facility to prepare fresh produce for the market and reverse the impacts of land degradation caused by unsustainable cropping methods.
As a result of these interventions, the farmers have experienced improved fertility and water-holding capacity of the soil leading to improved yields.
Owner of Second Chance farm, Mr. Epafras Hailenge is optimistic about his impending harvest, which he largely puts down to the improved conditions of his soil having used organic fertilizer for the very first time. “Agriculture is a risky business,” he remarks. “It is even more risky when the climate changes from year to year; so as farmers we need to be able to adapt to long periods of droughts or even flooding incidences”, says Epafras.
Funding for national adaptation planning has always been a challenge in Namibia. The EIF, in existence for 4 years now, has embarked on a process of educating the general public on the environmental impacts of climate change. In its quest to increase the level of financing to implement the National Climate Change Strategy and Action Plan and the broader development Strategies of the country, the Fund designed financing products such as grants and concessional loans earmarked for environmental projects. To date the Fund has financed more than 60 projects across the areas of natural resource management, green technology promotion, eco-tourism development and research and training.
The Fund is also in the process of leveraging increased support for transformative projects in the areas of green technology when the proposed Environmental Levies come into legislation. While the proposed levies on unsustainable products in the Namibian economy are meant to change consumer behaviour towards products that harm the environoment, they also hold the potential to create new, sustainable and climate-resilient markets and increase employment.
The Fund has also recently gained accreditation to the Green Climate Fund (GCF), headquartered in Songdo, South Korea. Accreditation means that the Board of the GCF has approved EIF to act as a channel through which resources are deployed to Namibia. The Fund, currently able to access funding of up to N$ 588 million for bankable climate adaptation projects on behalf of Namibia, is in the process of submitting concept notes for programmes to the GCF focusing on the areas of livestock adaptation, water harvesting and renewable energy.
The GCF funding, and the envisaged Environmental Levies present an opportunity for Namibia to build a climate-resilient economy that is transformative. In hindsight, this is music to the ears of Paulus Hamutenya and Epafras Hailenge.
About the author: Mr. Nafidi is a Communications and Public Relations Practitioner with more than 10 years practical experience in the environmental, tourism and services fields. As Head of Corporate Services and Communication at the Environmental Investment Fund, he is responsible for driving stakeholder engagements with the aim of mobilizing resources for the financing of environmental programmes.