Farmer  relies on N$600 pension allowance to feed 14 stomachs

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OKALONGO – Clouds offering just a lick and a promise of rain gathered eight kilometres south of the Angolan border near the farm of Councilor Elizabeth Mwanyangapo of the Okalongo constituency in the Omusati region where 68-year old Klaundi Mwanyangapo  describes the inevitable drought of 2015 as the worst she can remember since the eighties.

As a pensioner, she has to feed 14 hungry stomachs in her household with her pension money of N$600 per month and she fears that all hope of any harvest from nearby crop fields are lost as the rains refuse to pour life-giving water onto their wilting fields. “We have up to the beginning of April to try and salvage some of our hard work, preparing the soil in anticipation of good rains. After that I see disaster,” she says remembering some of the other tough years they had to face in the area. But just a few kilometres south from her location, Councilor Mwanyangapo paints a rosier picture in her conservation agricultural fields on five hectares where the healthy state and rapid growth of her mahangu, maize, sorghum, cow peas, ground nuts and water melon have surprised neighbours.

Being a Namibia Communal Agricultural Project (NCAP) member and lead farmer herself, she ascribes her success to CA methods applied despite the obvious lack of rain. “We are faced with the worst drought situation since the drought of 1983” she says as she explains that she has been on the farm since 1979. The most worrying thing is that I as councilor am receiving strings of requests for food aid since February. This has never happened in my five years as councilor and a great deal of these requests come from nearby villages and the San community. People are losing any hope fast and food insecurity s already the burning issue. This will only get worse as the devastating drought marches on and any rains now will not salvage the critical condition of both crop fields and livestock in the region. Government will have to intervene very quickly if we are to avoid a national disaster, she stresses.

Her close by neighbours, Petrus and Laima Shipena, are also two of the very few fortunate ones with promises of fair to decent crops from their four hectare fields of mahangu, maize, cow peas and sorghum. But they agree it will only be enough for the family and a few neighbours. They also applied the CA method and are pleasantly surprised with the results although the rains stayed away for most of December, January and February after they prepared and planted their fields in November and December.

Now the success stories of the CA method is spreading like wild fire through the villages but for those not accustomed with the correct procedures, it is too late.

They too agree that the current drought has the potential to destroy more crops and livestock than any other dry spell since they started farming on the plot in 1987.

The more you speak to some of the 130 000 communal farmers in all the North-Central areas, the more apparent it becomes that they regard the drought of 2015 as one that has the potential to destroy not just their crops and livestock but also their lives.

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