By Staff Reporter
WINDHOEK, April 11 — Namibia is a country plagued by droughts and water scarcity, with rare and erratic rainfall and 92% of its land are defined as very arid, arid or semi-arid. In recent years, severe droughts have caused substantial harm to the country’s agriculture and economy, with the worst drought in 90 years hitting the country in 2019, leading to serious food shortages.
To address this challenge, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) are working with farmers in northern regions of Namibia to implement small-scale drip irrigation systems. These systems use nuclear techniques to measure moisture levels in soil and plants and enable farmers to deliver precise amounts of water directly to plants, reducing water use and increasing efficiency.
Implemented as part of an IAEA technical cooperation project that began in 2020, the small-scale drip irrigation system has helped increase irrigation water use efficiency by over 80% compared to rainfed agriculture and has improved yields by up to 70% in the farmers’ fields that were part of the project.
Most smallholder farmers in Namibia rely solely on rainfall for crop production, which is scarce and unpredictable, resulting in low yields. The small-scale drip irrigation system has helped to increase the production of crops and the efficiency of agricultural output, protect water resources, and expand the cultivation of high-value crops, such as onions, tomatoes, cabbages, and groundnuts, including off-season.
The Namibian government is developing programs to enhance food security and strengthen food production, including increasing yields of major crops such as maize, sorghum, and cowpea by 25 to 50%. As part of these efforts, the government is exploring the possibility of introducing more small-scale drip irrigation systems.
The IAEA and FAO are committed to working with Namibian partners to jointly find solutions to droughts and increase agricultural productivity through nuclear science and technology. With small-scale drip irrigation systems, Namibian farmers can grow more and water less, ultimately improving their livelihoods and food security. – Namibia Daily News