The Champion Communal Grain Farmers’ Awards in the Zambezi Region in Namibia have returned after an absence of two years, with champion farmers delivering bumper harvests in 2017.
The Namibian Agronomic Board (NAB) crowned Alex Siseho the dry-land white maize champion farmer in the Zambezi Region for 2017, while Fred Mwabi was selected as the mahangu (pearl millet) champion farmer. Charles Mutelo (white maize) and Eris Likando (mahangu) were runners up.
Due to a drought and poor yields, there were no award winners in 2015 and 2016, but this year the awards were welcomed back with record harvests for the region.
NAB annually awards communal grain farmers from the Zambezi Region who apply the best dry-land production methods, to reward them for their contribution towards the development of the grain production sector.
The competition is scored using operational elements like tonnage produced, production methods used and input application.
Starting 2018, the competition will expand to include communal farmers from the Kavango West, Kavango East, Otjozondjupa and Omaheke Regions.
Support from government
Anna Shiweda, Deputy Minister of Agriculture, applauded small-scale farmers in the Zambezi Region for a bumper harvest of roughly 8 000 tons, from the previous highest marketed crop of 6 000 tons.
“Government’s support to small-scale farmers will be intensified, especially thanks to the past seasons exceptional outcome,” she said.
The Zambezi Region consumes roughly 3 000 tons of the total 8 000 tons, while the surplus is exported to the central parts of Namibia.
Famers can market their own grain at the National Strategic Food Reserve’s silo’s, which prevented deductions from the grain price due to added transport to mill-door costs.
Illegal maize imports challenge communal farmers
Illegal imports from neighboring Zambia, due to higher floor prices in Namibia, are still a concern preventing a conducive environment for local production in the Zambezi Region.
According to Michael Iyambo, chairperson of NAB, it is impossible to create an environment conducive to local production if efforts by NAB and its agencies – to eradicate illegal imports from Zambia – are not embraced.
“The Zambezi Region has immense potential and therefore farmers must spend more time to understand and appreciate the environment in order to tap its unmeasured potential,” said Iyambo.