Namibia launches pilot plant health clinic at Kaisosi

Namibia took a significant stride in securing plant health and ensuring food security for its citizens when twenty-nine plant doctors were trained at Rundu this week.

The inauguration of the Pilot Plant Health Clinic at Kaisosi, Salem irrigation project, is significant for the Kavango East region, as this clinic is the first of its kind in Rundu Rural Constituency and it symbolises the region’s commitment to protecting its agricultural resources from the devastating impact of plant pests and diseases.

The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) has been a crucial partner in supporting Namibia’s efforts.
As a member state, Namibia recognises the importance of proactive measures to prevent crop losses and maintain food production.

The clinic, established in collaboration with the Centre for Agriculture and Bioscience International, particularly through its global PlantWise programme, will serve as a hub for diagnosing and managing plant health issues.

Farmers, extension workers and researchers can access expert advice, diagnostic services and training.

FAO assistant representative Ferdinard Mwapopi says FAO aims to address the challenges faced by the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Land Reform.

“As we are all aware, plant health is critical for food security, agricultural productivity and poverty alleviation. According to FAO data, plant pests and diseases cause staggering losses, destroying up to 40% of global food production annually. This translates to immense economic hardship and hunger, particularly for vulnerable communities.

“In Namibia, crops have been ravaged by uncontrolled pests and diseases, such as the fall army worm outbreak of 2016 and 2017 and the African migratory locust outbreaks of 2020, 2021 and 2022,” Mwapopi says.

He says the importance of plants cannot be overstated, as plants make up 80% of the food we eat and produce 98% of the oxygen we breathe.

“At FAO, we recognise this, which is why, as the leading technical and global organisation to end hunger, plant health is at the forefront of our work,” Mwapopi says.

Ministry acting deputy director of plant health Violet Samataa says the plant health clinic will serve as a dedicated resource centre for diagnosing plant health problems and providing amicable solutions.

“We received training for two weeks and we advocate for pest sites which are atmosphere friendly to the environment for our future generation,” Samataa says.

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