By Petronella Sibeene
Farmers in the northern parts of the country fear that they might not be able to plough their fields on time, as most animals in the area are too weak to pull the ploughs due to drought.
Chairperson of Madume Farmer’s Union in Ohangwena, Ruben Shilongo, yesterday told New Era that mahangu fields have not been tilled despite some areas receiving rain, because the animals are too weak.
Mahangu or pearl millet is an important staple food for most people in Namibia, especially the Northerners.
The crop is mainly grown in the northern parts of the country because of its drought tolerance. It adapts well to production systems where there are low rainfall, low soil fertility and high temperatures.
Shilongo said although some areas have received rains, farmers have resorted to using hoes to work the fields.
“Most farmers are stuck, the animals cannot pull the ploughs because they are so weak, there is no grass for grazing,” said Shilongo.
Normally, farmers in the northern parts of the country start ploughing and planting mahangu by the second week of December but given severe drought this year, many do not have seeds, Shilongo added.
The few farmers who have tractors charge exorbitant fees.
According to Shilongo, one hectare costs N$300 to cultivate.
“We have no tractors and the few that have are charging so much. With this drought at hand, people do not have money,” bemoaned Shilongo.
Shilongo fears that this season will be the same as the last where farmers harvested very little.
Meanwhile, farmers in the Caprivi Region have started ploughing and planting maize seeds and other crops.
The Chairperson of the Likwama Farmers’ Union, James Lizazi, yesterday said most areas have received rain of about 45 millimetres.
“This year, farmers are fully geared and we look forward to a productive season,” said Lizazi.
Lizazi said the only fear expressed by farmers in the area is the marauding elephants that usually destroy crops in fields.
With the number of elephants estimated at 20ǟ