Dry spell far worse than imagined

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ONDANGWA – The drought of 2015 is far worse than anything imagined by livestock and crop farmers in the Northern Communal Areas(NCAs).

The situation should be seen as an opportunity for al Namibians to join hands in saving agriculture as one of the most important pillars of the country’s economy. Education and practical implementation of this knowledge gained by education is what is needed to prepare the future generation of agricultural producers.This is the message from Councillor Andreas Amundjindi from the Uukwiuy Uushona constituency in the wake of the drought reaping havoc in communities whose livelihoods depend solely on agricultural production. He predicts one of the worst spells in the history of Namibia as the effects of the drought of 2013 catche up with all farmers in 2015.

Amundjindi told New Era that the unexpected dry spell this year should serve as an eye opener for current and future generations as this phenomenon is bound to reoccur as climate change is leaving its scars on all parts of the world. He says it is now time  to act for all stakeholders and role players in the agricultural sector in order to save what we still have. “We need a change of mindset on many issues regarding agriculture – both livestock and crop farming – if we are to survive in the future. It’s time to act. It’s time to teach the youth how to protect the soil and how to do proper rangeland management. It’s time to make sure we build the infrastructure to save water in good rain seasons and it’s time to apply trusted and proven agricultural practices that will guarantee a decent living for communal farmers,” he stresses.

Amundjindi says his office is flooded with letters from headmen in his constituency demanding food aid from government before Cabinet has even made a decision on the issue. “That show how critical the situation on the ground is. I have never witnessed such food insecurity in March of any year and my officers spend a great deal of time on advising people on how to try and survive until food aid arrives.

He says gone are the days of keeping livestock as status symbols or for wedding presents. “Times have changed and they are getting tougher and if you want to farm, it must be seen as a serious business. But we must have the right infrastructures like ground dams in place and educate our people how to farm  profitable to ensure a future for their children and grandchildren,” Amundjindi notes.

He says the dry spells  late last year and early this year have caught everybody off guard but preparation can only come through education and practical implementation thereof. “The time is now for the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry, every farmers union and every cooperative to realise the seriousness of the situation; not just now but also for the future because Namibia will be subjected to this scenario again and again in the near future due to climate change,” he warns.

Amundjindi emphasises that communal farmers have it more difficult than anybody else because of the lack of auction pens in their areas and the vast distances they have to travel with their animals in order to sell them for a decent price. “Communal farmers do not have the capacity to spend small fortunes on transport costs. They are suffering the most as there is hardly a blade of grass left in our constituency where cattle have now become grazers. This is all due to wrong rangeland management and it must be corrected if we are to survive this drought and future droughts,” he concludes.

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