Drought situation critical

Government yesterday announced a N$572 million drought intervention strategy.

08 May 2019 | Agriculture

While government has declared the ongoing drought a state of emergency, the situation on the ground remains critical and farmers have been urged to develop an urgent five-year plan to deal with cash flow problems for when the rains come.

President Hage Geingob declared the state of emergency on Monday.

This is the third time in six years that government has taken this step.

Drought was also declared a national crisis in 2013 and in 2016.

Prime Minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila yesterday announced a N$572 million government intervention strategy in the National Assembly.

“Given the extent of the drought, these interventions will require the support of all Namibians, especially the business community and the international community. We therefore call on all Namibians and development partners to assist in any way possible, so that we provide for our people who are affected, as well as the livestock,” she said.



Namibia Agriculture Union (NAU) executive manager

Roelie Venter said the most important action resulting from the state of emergency declaration is that Geingob has requested all offices, ministries and agencies to work together to reduce the impact of the drought.

“Finance institutions also need to support producers to make their cash flow management easier.”

He said this can be done by, for instance, extending the instalment terms on long-term loans.

Venter said a five-year recovery plan also needs to be developed, because the real cash flow pressure on producers begins when the rains start again.

“I believe international assistance will be available for food aid. However, international aid for the implementation of a drought scheme will be a bigger challenge.”

He said the first step should now be to implement the drought scheme and to straighten out priorities.

“The most important action is to make incentives available to market livestock. This will minimise losses and protect the grazing resource.”

Venter further described the situation on the ground as critical.

“There is no roughage and producers must feed their livestock to keep them alive. A long year lies ahead and a lot of producers are currently busy making feed from bush, which is part of the solution.”

He added the condition of especially livestock with calves is deteriorating very quickly.

According to Venter some livestock deaths on farms could have been prevented.

“Therefore, animals should be removed from the field as quickly as possible. To try and feed a core herd for the rest of the year is not profitable.”



Slaughter prices

He said the fact that Meatco is stabilising slaughter prices has had a very positive effect, because there is an opportunity to slim down cows and deliver them to Meatco.

According to him Meatco is currently slaughtering 600 animals per day, which is unheard of in comparison to the past, and the demand is still much higher than they can slaughter.

The Namibia National Farmers Union (NNFU) met with their members in Otjiwarongo yesterday to share the news that a state of emergency had been declared.

NNFU executive director Mwilima Mushokobanji told Namibian Sun they would be having a media conference afterwards.

More than 30 000 cattle have already died due to the drought, while 24 598 goats, 8 238 sheep, 518 horses, and 296 donkeys have perished.

ELLANIE SMIT

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