Heavy Rains Worry Farmers

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By Petronella Sibeene WINDHOEK Though a blessing, the heavy rains falling across the country have evoked fears among farmers in some parts of the country that unless they subside, the wet weather could delay fertiliser application. A farmer who is also chairman of the farmers’ association in the Hardap region, Dawid de Klerk told New Era that unfortunately, the heavy rains have affected the first maize seed planted, as they cannot germinate because of saturation. “The seeds became rotten and could not grow,” he stated. This on its own has put financial strain on farmers as one hectare costs at least N$9 000 from the time of planting to harvesting and to have the field planted twice is quite costly. There is fear that if the present rain pattern continues, there will be a delay in applying fertilisers to the crops. Despite this problem, de Klerk is positive that food production would be good unlike the previous year when one hectare produced only six tonnes of harvest. “This year, we expect at least 10 tonnes per hectare,” he said. Meanwhile, a report that would determine whether Namibia has this year received sufficient rains for good harvests would be released by the end of next month. The Director of Agriculture Extension and Engineering Services, Smith Steenkamp yesterday confirmed that the planning division for the Emergency Unit is conducting a survey countrywide to determine the amount of rain received and the progress made on crop production. In general, good rains have been received except for a few areas such as the northern parts of Omusati Region, where heavy rains only started recently. “We will know once the report is out if drought would be looming and how we can assist farmers,” he explained. The Chief Executive Officer of the Namibia Agronomic Board, Christof Brock told New Era that hectares planted so far in most parts of the country are less than those planted last year around the same time. He attributed this mainly to initial heavy rains, saying this made it impossible for farmers to work on land using tractors. “It was too wet to get in the fields with tractors but on assumption, we expect better yield per hectare.” For areas such as the Caprivi, despite floods, people are still optimistic about a good cereal harvest. For mahangu farmers, the same could be expected with the hope that no pests would come.