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Namibia farmers looking forward to rare bumper harvest

WINDHOEK Namibia (Xinhua) -- For nearly three years, Teo Tobias’ household in Eyakulo village in Namibia’s northern Oshikoto region has been food insecure following poor crop yields of staple pearl millet due to climate change variability.

During the 2015 and 2016 farming seasons, Tobias said he suffered major losses on his farm due to drought.

In April 2015, Namibia’s Office of the Prime Minister announced that over 400,000 Namibians were affected by drought. The drought loomed into 2016, seen as the worst in more than 30 years for the country.

For Tobias, it never rains but pours. Climate change variability persisted.

“As if poor yields in 2015/16 due to drought was not enough, in 2017, I harvested next to nothing following flooding and pests. We mainly relied on government food relief,” he said Friday.

For the current farming season, the 46-year-old farmer decided to try farming with pearl millet, but this time more strategically.

According to Tobias, it took creativity, hard labor and toiling.

“We had to be strategic with our farming techniques. Sowing was done after the third rainfall, instead of the usual sowing after first seasonal rainfall. That way, we prolonged crops growth and enhanced survival rate of the crops,” he said.

Today, Tobias is a happy man, optimistic about the harvest prospects. The strategies are set to herald a bumper harvest for the farmers.

“Also, this year’s rainfall was sufficient to grow crops. We anticipate a bumper harvest of pearl millet and sorghum,” he said.

Matheus Ndjodhi, an agro-business analyst in the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry, said that based on the crop assessment conducted in February 5 to March 2, most of the crop producing regions are expecting a better crop harvest.

“We have received good to moderate rainfall in some regions, which should be sufficient to aid in better crop yields for farmers,” said Ndjodhi.

Tangeni Toivo, another farmer from Eyakulo village, said that his homestead too is expecting a good harvest. Like Tobias, Toivo turned to irregular methods of farming to mitigate the impact of climate change.

“This farming season I turned to crop rotation to fight pests and tried other pearl millet seed varieties to improve yields,” Toivo said.

Government efforts to provide subsidized services including ploughing and seeds through the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry regional extension offices has aided in the farmers’ improved prospects.

For Toivo, that is a blessing.

“God blessed us with good rainfall this year. Not only is that, but support given by Government through the regional agricultural extension offices has been invaluable. We complemented the blessing of rain with hard work, and we shall reap what we sowed,” he said.

The farmers also anticipate a surplus—something they have not been able to achieve over the past three years.

“If all goes well and we do not experience any pest outbreaks and birds that feed-off our crops, we will be able to sell the surplus and generate an income to supplement our families’ food basket,” said Toivo.

In the interim, Tobias said that they also plan to share yields with fellow villagers. “We ought to share our yields with those who may not be fortunate enough to have a good harvest, and share strategies we employed in the coming year,” said Tobias.

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EARLIER REPORTS:

Namibia’s overall inflation remains pegged at 3.5 pct in March

WINDHOEK Namibia (Xinhua) -- Namibia’s annual inflation rate stood at 3.5 percent during March 2018, similar to the February rate, according to the country’s central bank.

The Bank of Namibia’s Money and Banking Statistics released on Monday state that although inflation in the food and non-alcoholic beverages category rose considerably, this increase was set off by a similar decrease in the transport category, resulting in a similar rate to that reported in February.

The statistics released also highlighted that growth in private sector credit extension (PSCE) remained static at the end of March 2018.

On an annual basis, growth in PSCE stood at 5.7 percent at the end of the month under review, maintaining the same rate as at the end of February, the statistics revealed.

Meanwhile the country’s stock of international reserves continued to plummet at the end of March as they continued to hover around 2.16 billion U.S. dollars, a decline of 7.5 million dollars, compared to February. 

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Namibians in house-to-house campaign to fight gender violence

WINDHOEK Namibia (Xinhua) -- A Namibian human rights organization has joined hands with local tertiary students to embark on a house-to-house campaign in a quest against the prevailing gender-based violence in Namibia.

Monica Gender Based Violence Solution said volunteers are educating citizens in Namibia’s Capital Windhoek on human rights, law and relationship dispute resolution.

Namibia is battling with prevalent cases of gender-based violence. Between November 2017 and January 2018, 552 cases of gender-based violence were registered with the police. Statistics by the Namibian Police further show that nearly 50,000 cases related to gender-based violence were reported between 2014 and 2016.

Shaanika Nashilongo, head of legal affairs at the organisation, said Friday that efforts to educate people in their homes in Windhoek is to bridge discomfort associated with speaking out in public and further to reach a wider audience.

“Although we held various public sessions on gender-based violence before, we found out that in many cases, people prefer to discuss such issues in confidence or in the comfort of their homes. Through house-to-house sessions, we thus accord them privacy and confidentiality,” he said.

On a Friday morning, Remisia Heita, a humanities student at the University of Namibia who volunteers with the organization was welcomed into a home in Windhoek’s Havana informal settlement. Here, she talked to dwellers about gender-based violence and handed out brochures.

“My heart bleeds when I read about or hear of cases of gender-based violence, especially gender-based violence, hence my decision to volunteer with the organization to educate people,” she said.

For Heita, gender-based gender violence happens every day. “This is happening because majority of the people here do not have access to adequate information. As such, in instances they are abused, most people do not know what to do or at times are unaware of their rights,” she said.

As part of the campaign, the volunteers bring together information on the law, human rights and social skills to make up the content to be shared.

While information is currently geared towards adults, the long-term goal of the organization is to reduce manifestation of violence and impact on children.

“Gender-based violence also greatly affects children, leading them to become violent which culminates in violent behavior and society at large. Thus, passion for human development and prosperity of citizens drives our campaign. We want to address injustices,” Nashilongo added.

In the interim, as Heita completes her session, she said her hope would be to reach out to more men, who are culturally seen as strong.

“Men also need to open up. Men also have emotions, feelings and can feel bad. And, too often men are seen as perpetrators. Our key message is that: a safe avenue and time need to be create for people to speak up,” said Heita.

“Therefore, we would like to reach out to the men, to educate them as much as we educate women.” This, she said, is critical for balanced and unbiased society in the fight against gender-based violence.

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Namibia continues to utilize renewable energy opportunities

WINDHOEK Namibia (Xinhua) -- Namibia to date has managed to connect nine out of the 14 renewable energy projects to the national grid.

The efforts were made under the Interim Renewable Energy Feed-in Tariff (REFIT) Program, which was initiated by the Ministry of Energy, the Electricity regulator and NamPower in 2015.

The latest development was the inauguration of a 5 megawatt Solar PV Power Plant in Rosh Pinah—a mining town located south of the country by Energy Minister Tom Alweendo on April 27.

In a statement on Monday, Alweendo said the total amount of clean electricity energy which was fed into the grid by renewable energy projects was about 93 Giga-Watt hours in 2017, which is clear testimony of an important milestone of an electricity supply industry (ESI) that is undergoing change in Namibia.

“As we thrive towards vision 2030, we must continue to use local available resources for the beneficiation of all Namibians,” said the minister.

“In case of energy, Namibia has one of the world’s best solar resource, and a significant amount of biomass and plenty good wind regimes,” he said.

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Namibia to phase out high sulphur diesel in 2019

WINDHOEK Namibia (Xinhua) -- Namibia will begin to phase out diesel 500 ppm (parts per million) from its fuel market with effect from January 1, 2019, while Diesel 50 ppm will continue to be available in the market throughout the country, according to an official.

Namibia’s Ministry of Mines and Energy, Senior Public Relations Officer, Andreas Simon, said Monday in a statement that low sulphur diesel or 10 ppm sulphur diesel will also be introduced in Namibia, also as from January 2019.

Diesel 500 ppm has a high sulphur content, compared to diesel 50 ppm and 10 ppm having low emission with less sulphur content.

“The phasing in of low sulphur diesel is also in line with the Namibian government’s policy of cleaner fuels and global initiatives to reduce CO2 emissions,” he added.

According to Simon, low sulphur diesel will allow the introduction of advanced engine technology that requires low sulphur.

“It is possible that not all retail sites will have the cleaner diesel at the beginning but with time 10 ppm sulphur diesel will be available countrywide,” he said.

Meanwhile, Simon said the Energy Ministry will coordinate the implementation of the phase out of 500 ppm sulphur diesel and the introduction of 10 ppm sulphur diesel in Namibia by working in concert with the oil industry.

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Namibia expects increased air traffic with Angola

WINDHOEK Namibia (Xinhua) -- Namibian President Hage Geingob expects plans to increase local airline Air Namibia’s routes to Angola will be a catalyst for business activity, trade and tourism.

Addressing an Angolan delegation headed by President Joao Lourenco that arrived in the Windhoek for an state visit on Thursday, Geingob said: “I am pleased to note that plans are at an advanced stage for Air Namibia to increase routes to Angola by flying to Ondjiva, Lubango, Namibie and Benguela.”

Geingob said the two countries had signed a number of bilateral cooperation instruments that shape and outline the framework for cooperation.

They include cooperation in energy, education, health, trade, environment, the Baynes hydro project, currency conversion, tourism and agriculture, said the Namibian president.

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Namibia cuts malaria rates by more than 90 percent

WINDHOEK Namibia  (Xinhua) -- Namibia highlighted historic success in cutting malaria rates by more than 90 percent, according to a statement recently issued by the African Leaders Malaria Alliance (ALMA) on the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting 2018 in London.

Namibia’s Director of Special Disease Program, Anne-Marie Nitschke told Xinhua on Monday that the country is committed to eliminating malaria across the country in the next few years and emphasized the importance of cross border collaboration and the regional elimination efforts of the E8 partners in supporting this ambition.

“Over the years we have championed in the battle against malaria with initiatives that include Indoor Residual Spraying (IRS), training and monitoring of spray teams, strengthening of electronic surveillance system as well as awareness campaign programs,” she added.

In addition to the current government investment levels of 2 million U.S. dollars per year the health ministry is also aligning their national resource strategy to help meet future funding gaps.

Namibia was among the 12 African countries in the Commonwealth who announced new commitments to eliminate malaria.

Meanwhile the African Leaders Malaria Alliance (ALMA) welcomed the commitment by 53 Commonwealth leaders to halve malaria across the Commonwealth within the next five years.

The 2017 World Malaria Report revealed that progress towards eliminating malaria globally and across the African continent was fragile and uneven. While several African countries including Madagascar, Senegal, the Gambia and Zimbabwe led the world in reducing malaria cases in 2016, nine out of the 10 countries which saw the greatest increase in cases were on the African continent

           

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