Livestock wasting away

Five-year drought takes devastating toll

27 December 2016 | Agriculture

Hundreds of thousands of livestock have perished due to the drought and thousands of people grow hungrier every day.

More than 182 000 cattle and 30 000 sheep have over the past few years died due the drought conditions in Namibia.

This is according to an in-depth assessment by the Food and Agriculture Organisation that has for the first time revealed the full scope of the devastating toll that the prolonged drought has had on some communities in Namibia.

The assessment indicates that between 2011 and 2015 more than 142 000 cattle perished due to drought conditions in Namibia, while more than 16 500 sheep died.

It is further estimated that a total of 40 880 cattle, 13 895 sheep, 235 goats, 18 donkeys and 63 horses have died due to the drought between October last year and May this year.

The report says that livestock mortality over the last five years due to drought has far outweighed mortality due to any other cause. The veterinary department reports that total number of cattle lost due to drought between 2011 and 2015 for example is 142 901 as compared with just 13 962 lost to disease within the same period.

The assessment focussed on the Kunene, Omusati and Erongo regions and how drought impacted these communities.





According to the assessment, at least 97% of communities in Omusati are reliant on crop production, followed by Kunene where 20% of communities rely on crop production while in Erongo 96% of households rely on livestock farming and 72% in Kunene.

At household level, Erongo had the highest proportion of goats and sheep lost due to the effect of the drought whereas Omusati had the highest losses for cattle.

At the time of conducting the survey, some of the households had migrated with their herds in search of grazing and water.

Farmers reported poor reproductive performance within their herds, citing problems such as spontaneous abortions, low birth weights, dystocia, calf mortalities and longer calving intervals due to the poor body condition of their animals.

They also reported a decline in frequency of clutching and clutch size for the indigenous poultry, highlighting that the number of eggs was gradually declining over time. This often happens as a result of extremely high temperatures.

In Kunene and Erongo especially, the rangeland is mostly bare, with very little ground cover, says the report.

According to the assessment farmers are concerned at the rate at which perennial grass species are being replaced by poisonous plants and invader bushes that are not beneficial to livestock farming. This has led to animals accessing inadequate grazing of poor quality and low nutritive value, resulting in poor livestock condition, with many farmers reporting livestock deaths.

About 60% of the households in Omusati, 29% in Erongo and 20% in Kunene regions are currently unable to meet their food needs as most households are reported to have depleted their last season's harvest and are now dependent mainly on the market and the government's Drought Relief Food Programme for food access. However, according to households interviewed the supply of drought relief food is inadequate when compared to the number of food insecure people, says the report.

“Households noted that, the drought relief food distribution takes too long to come to the household's rescue and is only targeting certain households that are regarded as most vulnerable. Household owners are therefore requesting the government to improve the supply of the drought relief food, ensure timely delivery of the food and cover all the households affected by the drought condition.”

The assessment also indicated that up to 77% of the households in Omusati have inadequate supplies of water for human use as compared to 45.9% of the households in Kunene and 34.1% in Erongo.

According to the report the drought adversely affected crop production with most farmers in the assessment area reporting total crop failure. The average crop losses for maize were 94.7% and 72.6% in Omusati and Kunene regions respectively.

Crop losses for mahangu in Omusati was 75.8%. Other significantly high losses were 100% for other cereals and orchards, 92.6% for sorghum, and 90% for vegetables in Omusati.

According to the report to assess the impact of drought on irrigation, farmers were asked to estimate the percentage reduction in irrigation capacity. Almost 32% of the irrigation systems were negatively affected. This was partly due to a variety of factors, ranging from dried up water sources due to a low water table as a result of poor rains, damaged canals, broken-down irrigation pipes and damage to infrastructure as wild animals such as elephants were moving into communities in search of food and water in Kunene. This consequently leads to a significant drop in the contribution of irrigated crops to household food security.



ELLANIE SMIT

Similar News

 

Zambezi hit by new FMD outbreak

3 days ago - 21 July 2017 | Agriculture

Eighteen months after Namibia was declared free of foot-and-mouth-disease a new outbreak of the disease has been confirmed in the Kabbe South Constituency of the...

AU talks women and farming in Botswana

5 days ago - 19 July 2017 | Agriculture

The coordinator of the AU-Inter Africa Bureau for Animal Resources based at Sebele, Botswana, says the African Union (AU) is committed to empowering women and...

Make mine medium rare

5 days ago - 19 July 2017 | Agriculture

The rising and steady consumption of beef both locally and internationally is creating more opportunities for the Namibian meat industry. This growth allows for Meatco...

Land sales stalled

6 days ago - 18 July 2017 | Agriculture

Inadequate budgetary provision for acquisition and limited supply are some of the challenges encountered in restoring land to landless Namibians since the inception of the...

Land tax review expected

1 week ago - 13 July 2017 | Agriculture

ELLANIE SMIT Farmers are hopeful that a new land tax regime to be proposed to cabinet will finally address...

Hopes for control of bird flu dashed

1 week ago - 13 July 2017 | Agriculture

Namibian borders will remain closed for poultry imports from South Africa for a longer period following the spread of the H5N8 bird flu virus to...

Land tribunals, expropriation part of talks

1 week ago - 13 July 2017 | Agriculture

Both the loss of ancestral land and partial restitution were acknowledged at the Khomas regional consultative conference held in Windhoek this week. The Ministry...

Witvlei Meat threatens to terminate talks with Agribank

1 week ago - 12 July 2017 | Agriculture

Witvlei Meat says it intends to stop all settlement negotiations with Agribank of Namibia if the latter does not comply with a number of agreements...

Namib Poultry products safe

1 week ago - 12 July 2017 | Agriculture

Namib Poultry Industries has assured its consumers that its chicken meat produced locally in Namibia is safe for human consumption. This follows the outbreak of...

Meatco secures A-rating

1 week ago - 12 July 2017 | Agriculture

Meatco recently received an A-rating during the annual British Retail Consortium (BRC) audit of the Windhoek factory.This audit was conducted by Deborah Wortelhock of Kiwa...

Latest News

Chinese firms stop work amid...

11 hours ago | Infrastructure

Two Chinese companies responsible for the bulk earthworks for the construction of the railway line between Ondangwa and Oshakati have reportedly stopped work due to...

Farmers demand Meatco board quit

11 hours ago | Agriculture

The contested Meatco board called a last-minute halt to a Friday meeting, stating that a number proposed resolutions drafted by Meatco members were illegal and...

Region grapples with violence

11 hours ago | Crime

According to Kavango West Deputy Commissioner Rudolph Mbumba gender-based violence (GBV) is the most common crime committed in the region, where about three to four...

Struggle kids snatch fire truck

11 hours ago | Crime

A fire truck was briefly hijacked near Brakwater on Friday by a group of incensed 'struggle kids' who also set a broken-down minibus on fire...

No decision on RCC yet

11 hours ago | Government

The minister of public enterprises, Leon Jooste, on Friday said no decision on the future of the beleaguered Roads Construction Company (RCC) had been made....

Pretorius laid to rest

11 hours ago | People

Family members and people from all corners of Namibia paid their last respects to Willem Francois Pretorius, better known as Kosie Pretorius, during a service...

Northern fuel shortage addressed

11 hours ago | Energy

The mines and energy minister, Obeth Kandjoze, has commended Engen for the N$62 million fuel depot it has established at Ondangwa, which is expected to...

Queen praises Dr Ndume

11 hours ago | Health

The Oukwanyama Traditional Authority has presented an “award of commendation” to eye specialist Dr Helena Ndume in recognition of her dedication and commitment to the...

Hope whispers

11 hours ago | Opinion

We are a nation existing in trying times. There is no doubt that most Namibians, rich, poor, black and white are feeling the pinch of...

Load More