Red Cross Hands Out Seed to Vulnerable

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By Petronella Sibeene WINDHOEK Recent heavy rains across the country have prompted the Namibia Red Cross Society (NRCS) to initiate a scheme in which the San people and other vulnerable groups would receive maize and vegetable seeds. Communities targeted for this assistance that is worth thousands of tons of seeds are those in the north-eastern parts of the country. The National Program and Operations Manager for NRCS Abel Augustinio said that as part of the humanitarian agency’s quest to fight hunger, it has been appealing for funds since last year for this purpose. The organisation will distribute eight metric tonnes of hybrid maize seeds, 60 kilograms of pumpkin, tomato and cabbage seeds as well as 40 metric tonnes of ammonium nitrate and Compound D fertilizer. “We made an international appeal late last year and we only got the financial response to our appeal last December. We will distribute these to 2000 households in the Caprivi, Kavango, and Otjozondjupa (Tsumkwe) regions,” he elaborated. Though the rain season is coming to an end, the Red Cross says it consulted the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry on chances for the villagers to harvest crops from the late seeds. And based on the ministry’s advice, it appears the seeds being distributed stand a better chance of growing because they are of the variety that grows and matures early. Today, bags of vegetable seed and fertiliser are expected to be trucked from South Africa where the seeds were procured. The maize seed was bought locally from Agra’s depot in Grootfontein. The organisation through its regional offices has in total mobilised 200 volunteers to assist with the distribution of these seeds. The International Federation of the Red Cross Red Crescent Societies last year made an appeal to donor organisations worldwide and received more than N$180 million. However, Augustinio could not provide the exact figure that NRCS received for its national food security appeal. “We hope to see more food production this year, we are taking advantage of the rain,” he concluded.