Climate Smart Agriculture (CSA) is crop and livestock production that sustainably increases productivity, resilience (adaptation), reduces/removes greenhouse gases (mitigation), and enhances achievement of national food security and development goals. CSA encourages the use of all available and applicable climate change solutions in a pragmatic and impact-focused manner. The Food Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN) commissioned this scoping study on CSA with the overall objective of creating a policy environment that increase agricultural productivity and strengthen the resilience of vulnerable smallholder farmers to the impacts of climate change.
According to Namibia Statistical Agency’s 2012 estimates, agriculture and forestry in Namibia contributes 5.1% to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and livestock alone contributes 3.5% which is a contribution of 68.63 % to the Agricultural GDP. As one of the driest countries on this planet, crop production is second to livestock in importance due to the presence of perennial grass species which are resistant to moisture stress. Therefore, cattle play a vital role in the agricultural economy of Namibia. To alleviate extreme poverty, mitigate and adapt to climate change Namibia has pronounced that the crop-livestock sector must be developed through science and technology endeavours and used as a vehicle for sustainable rural development. The government of Namibia through the Fourth National Development Program (NDP4) and Vision 2030 aims to gradually diversify crop production and commercialize livestock farming in the northern communal areas (NCAs) to accentuate social and economic development in the communal areas. Cattle signifies the owner’s social status and, to a certain extent, social security in cases of monetary need or emergency taking the homestead through dire straits. Although, Namibia is regarded as a middle income country, on the ground disparities in income exists such that there is a bloated lower income group accounting for over 70% of the population that relies on subsistence agriculture.
The number of animals per year from commercial farms marketed through Meatco to high price markets in Europe have declined from 215 000 (in the late 1990s); 158 000 (in 2004); 114,150 (in 2011) and 102 260 (in 2012) (Meatco annual report 2011/12; Meat Board of Namibia, 2012). The decline is due to bush encroachment on commercial farms and also due to rangeland degradation in the communal rangelands. This has impacted on productivity by reducing grazing capacities to 16 ha/LSU on commercial ranches and 30 ha/LSU in communal rangelands. Bush encroachment in Namibia has increased drastically over the last 30 years. In 1957 it was reported that some 4.56 million hectares were infested with encroacher bush and this had increased to some 26 million hectares by 2002 (de Klerk, 2004). Three types of land tenure exist and these are (i) are exclusive communal farms (3 million hectares), Open access communal (14 million hectares and (iii) freehold (14.5million hectares) on most commercial farms. This complicates grazing capacity management issues as no single policy can be applied across the board to deal with the dwindling grazing.