N$572m for drought relief

22 March 2019 | Disasters

Cabinet has announced a N$572.7 million drought relief package for 2019 to 2020.

The money is set to cover food assistance, water tankers, livestock management incentives, transport subsidies for farmers to and from grazing areas, as well as the transport of fodder to stricken areas.

Moreover, it will also cover the leasing of grazing areas on behalf of farmers, who are unable to pay, and subsidies for crop farmers. New emergency relief interventions include a lick subsidy for stock herds and a fodder subsidy for core herds. The plan was submitted by the agriculture ministry and announced on Tuesday by cabinet, among other directives.

Cabinet urged all agencies and organisations within the defence and health ministries to make available facilities to support the implementation of the drought relief interventions. The Livestock Producers' Association at the end of January described the drought conditions in the country as a “national crisis”, and by February the Namibia Agricultural Union and the Namibia Emerging Commercial Farmer's Union had compiled a drought action plan and met with agriculture minister Alpheus !Naruseb.

Also in February, the Agricultural Inputs and Household Food Security Situation Report said the country faces a 150 000-tonne grain shortfall by the end of April and that grazing continued to deteriorate in many parts of the country.

Forecasters have had great difficulty in predicting weather patterns because of the El Niño phenomenon, which generally brings drought to southern Africa. Several forecasters have, however, warned of erratic but overall low rainfall. Farmers in the northern areas have also reported that mahangu and maize crops under dryland production are failing and the dryland producers in the so-called maize triangle had not planted all their available fields.