… Animal feed prices go through the roof
ONGWEDIVA – As the drought worsens, many parts of the country are experiencing a shortage of animal feed, especially lucerne which is one of the most sought-after feeds among both communal and commercial farmers to sustain their livestock.
Some farmers in the north claim Agra shops run out of lucerne from time to time, which causes them great frustration and hindrance.
“Two to three months without lucerne … how can our animals survive? The rainy season is very close, yet so far. Something needs to be done. After all we are not sure if it is going to rain this year. Some of us can afford to buy feed for our livestock, but the country is experiencing a shortage in general,” lamented one of the affected farmers.
Another farmer who mostly buys his feed from a local supplier that buys it from Agra, said some business people are cashing in by stocking up on lucerne bought from Agra only to resell it to local farmers at unreasonably high prices, knowing that it is a time of desperation for most. Farmers who cannot afford to transport animal feed from as far as Oshivelo have no choice but to buy locally at very high prices.
Apart from lucerne, the prices of other animal fodder as well as supplements such as licks are skyrocketing as well. Currently a bale of lucerne costs N$140 at Agra, however some local business people resell it for as much as N$260, which is more than a 50kg lucerne pellet, which costs N$229 at Agra.
Livestock supplements such as Bosverteerlek, Eco Grasveldlek and Droëveld Konsentraat sell between N$194 and N$321 per 50kg at Agra. However some local businesses that buy these products from Agra are reselling them at a similar price but per 20kg.
A business owner who did not want to be named confirmed that transport costs to buy livestock feed especially from Oshivelo to Oshakati and places further away are high and is one of the reasons why some businesses push up their prices, very much taking advantage of the drought to make a quick buck .
“Some of us don’t even have trucks of our own, so we have to pay transportation costs and it’s not cheap at all,” said the businessperson.
Agra’s communication officer Albe Snyman said the animal feed and supplement shortage is a countrywide problem and is not confined to one part of the country.
“Due to the current drought, the demand for all kinds of fodder as well as licks is high throughout Namibia and poses a challenge for all suppliers and retailers of fodder and licks to provide for the needs of all farmers,” Snyman said upon inquiry.
Snyman said Agra realises the frustration of farmers with the periodical unavailability of fodder and licks and the importance of good planning and stock control, but she encouraged farmers to communicate on a regular basis with their local Agra branches regarding their needs and the availability of products, considering also the delivery time for products to the various branches.
She however maintained her company has no control over the re-sale of products bought from Agra.
By Helvy Shaanika