Tough road ahead

After seven years of disastrous drought, Namibian farmers face an uphill battle to rebuild their herds, while facing severe cash flow challenges.

22 January 2020 | Agriculture

The disastrous drought in Namibia over the past seven years has forced livestock producers to significantly reduce their herds. They are now faced with cash flow challenges to rebuild them.

According to the Namibia Agricultural Union (NAU), the cash generated from the sale of livestock was utilised to feed the remaining herd, with limited ability to save funds for recovery and herd-rebuilding.

The NAU says the next three years will be challenging in terms of rebuilding livestock herds, while surviving cash flow challenges.

“The agricultural sector as a whole needs to work together to find solutions, and put action plans in place to assist producers to recover to full production levels.”

Furthermore, the union says young and emerging farmers with debt on land are the most vulnerable, as they need to continue servicing long-term debt while very limited marketable animals will be available to sell in the herd-rebuilding phase.

The NAU developed cash flow scenarios, and has had various consultations with stakeholders and development institutions to determine what can be expected and what is required to ensure long-term recovery after the drought.

“The recovery after the drought is one of the main priorities which has to be addressed.

“A healthy productive primary agricultural sector in Namibia creates rural jobs and improved livelihoods, curbs rural-to-urban migration and multiplies job opportunities in the rest of the value chain.”

However, when primary agricultural production is destroyed, the total value chain – including input supply, processing and marketing – disintegrates, the NAU says. Furthermore, with regards to the foot-and-mouth disease outbreak in South Africa, four cases have been reported since mid-December, the last of which occurred in the first week of January, the South African agriculture department reported.

The total number of confirmed positive locations since the beginning of the outbreak has increased to 15. According to the NAU, the directorate of veterinary services (DVS) in Namibia has confirmed that import restrictions on raw animal products from South Africa remain unchanged and that regulations regarding the import of animal feed are also unchanged.

No raw meat or products derived from split hoof animals may be imported into Namibia, with the exception of pork only from certain parts of South Africa.

Animal feed must still be certified by a veterinarian in South Africa that it complies with certain regulations before it can be imported.

In other news, the Roads Authority (RA) of Namibia has expressed concern about the increasing amount of animals in national road reserves, which may cause road accidents.

The RA has requested farmers to keep their animals within boundaries to ensure that they do not enter the roads.

The authority also noticed that grass has been cut in road reserves along national roads.

“Farm owners, lessees or occupiers of a farm may not cut grass in road reserves without the consent of the RA.

“Applications to cut grass must be accompanied by proof of ownership of the farm, a lease agreement or proof of occupation of land.”

People who want to cut grass in national road reserves who are not the farm owner, lessee or occupier of the land must apply at the relevant RA district office with an original, signed letter of permission from the land owner, lessee or occupier of the land.

This letter must be accompanied by a signed copy of proof of ownership, the lease agreement or proof of occupation of land.

“Anyone who does not adhere to these procedures can be issued with legal procedures by the RA,” the NAU said.


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