WINDHOEK, FEB 23 – MTC and the Environment Investment Fund (EIF), through the National Plant Genetic Resource Centre (NPGRC/Genebank), sponsored a sum of N$400 000 (N$200 000 each) for the establishment of a rural community Seedbank in Kavango West region, Ncuncuni constituency.
Namibia’s national seed bank protects and saves seeds or plants genetic diversity. It is a preservation facility which ensures that saved and viable seeds of valuable genes are conserved and be available to breeders to develop and improve varieties of major food crops. This also provides an opportunity to enhance seed (s) resistance to current and emerging plant diseases and insects, changing climate tolerance, and improving Namibia’s security of food production, while promoting environmental sustainability.
The announcement was made at the National Botanical Research Institute in Windhoek, and MTC’s Chief Human Capital and Corporate Affairs Officer, Tim Ekandjo, said that MTC has embarked on a journey of supporting environmental and sustainable goals and providing support to establish a food bank is first of more environmental initiatives to come as part of its CSI strategy – focusing on environmental, agriculture and sustainability programs.
“The issue of environmental and sustainability has become pertinent to MTC, hence, we will be undertaking several environmental initiatives this year. Additionally, if we are to ensure food security and its sustainable production, facilities for preserving indigenous seeds are crucial to protecting and saving plant genetic diversity. The Seedbank will be used to conduct research to aid the development of enhanced varieties of food crops. This will mainly assist to create seeds which are resistant to current and emerging plant infections; and improve seeds’ tolerance to flood or drought.”
Ekandjo emphasized that “as Namibians and Africa at large, we have a primary responsibility of leaving this planet and environment in a much better form, so that future generations will be able to see these things.”
He highlighted the preservation should not just be applied to seeds, but to everything within the biodiversity.
EIF’s Chief Executive Officer, Benedict Libanda added that the Environmental Investment Fund of Namibia is at the forefront of supporting biodiversity conservation and climate change intervention in Namibia.
“When we talk about climate change, we use the terms ‘mitigation’ and ‘adaptation’. Mitigation includes strategies such as reducing our carbon emissions, but by adaptation’ we mean human adaptation to climate change. How are we going to cope? One of the most obvious human adaptation strategies is seed banking as an insurance policy. I would therefore not underestimate the significance of seedbank towards securing indigenous genetic pools of our plant species. What is more appealing to us is that this is a community-based seed bank, we can clearly see NBRI’s intention to build community resilience and capacity,” he said.
Environmental Commissioner in the Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Tourism Timoteus Mufeti commended the two entities for helping to decentralize the seedbank, which is currently based in Windhoek, to the region (s) to allow communal farmers to equally play a pivotal role in protecting and maintaining plant genetic resources. – NDN Staffer