Do your bit for drought aid

21 February 2019 | Weather

It would cost about N$170 million to fatten only 5% of Namibia's national herd over a period of two months and to remove the animals from farms.

In an effort to support farmers, the agriculture sector aims to collect N$10 million through the Dare to Care Fund.

The initiative, launched on Monday, aims to subsidise fodder costs in order to help farmers to fatten livestock for the market, while also assisting them to maintain their core breeding herds.

An important aspect of the assistance would be not to donate feed to farmers, but to make sure feeds are more affordable through subsidising.

Agricultural retail outlets such as Kaap Agri and Agra, which have retail branches countrywide, will be used to reach farmers and subsidised prices will be available at all branches.

Speaking at the launch, Namibia Agriculture Union (NAU) president Ryno van der Merwe said the Fund would provide drought assistance to all farmers.

“Namibia is facing a national crisis in the agricultural sector due to the current drought conditions which started in 2013.”

He said livestock and game farmers across the country were overjoyed by the first rains recently received in some parts of the country.

“However, the biggest part of Namibia has still received little to no rain and even in the areas where rain was received, a long path to the recovery of rangelands still lies ahead.”

To survive a drought farmers need help to fatten their animals for the market and remove them from the rangeland, while trying to save their core breeding herd for when the rain comes again.

“To fatten only 5% of Namibia's national herd over a period of two months in order to remove the animals from the farms would cost about N$170 million,” Van der Merwe said.

The Dare to Care Fund was initially established in 2000 to provide assistance to victims of veld fires in the agriculture sector. It has since evolved to provide support to victims of floods, farm attacks and even the San community.

According to Van der Merwe the entire agricultural sector and the private sector decided to join hands under the Dare to Care umbrella to help all drought-stricken farmers survive the drought.

This would apply to communal, emerging and commercial farmers across the country.

Van der Merwe emphasised that it is not just the government's responsibility to address the situation, but that it must be a collective effort from all stakeholders involved.

The management of the Fund has appointed SGA Chartered Accountants and Auditors to perform a full financial audit on the Fund to ensure accountability of all money received and distributed.

“We are appealing to everyone to support this national project in the interest of our country, our farmers and their workers,” said Van der Merwe.

He said although there were other initiatives to support farmers during the drought, the Dare to Care Fund was the only initiative in which the agricultural unions and the private sector were directly involved.

Agriculture minister Alpheus !Naruseb said farming played a crucial role in the country.

“Every effort towards the looming drought is welcome and carries the support of the ministry. The two unions are going the extra mile while waiting for the government to announce mitigation measures for the drought.

“We hope to make the impact of the drought at least bearable for farmers. As farmers of this arid country, however, we should not be surprised that there is insufficient rain and should prepare ourselves.”

He said farmers should at all times be proactive and prepared for drought.

According to !Naruseb the ministry had compiled a report on the rainfall pattern of the 2018/19 rainy season by the end of last year, but the expected pattern for 2019/2020 must still be completed by March or April.

Depending on this data government would announce whether the drought is a national crisis or not.

“The expected rainfall for 2019/2020 will determine whether we'll declare a national disaster,” he said.

Donations can be deposited into the following bank account: Dare to Care, FNB Commercial Suite, branch code: 28 19 72, account number: 6202 111 9509.

Fax a deposit slip to 061 220193 or email it to [email protected]

ELLANIE SMIT

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