WINDHOEK- With the drought continuing to bite into most parts of the country, the Namibia National Farmers Union (NNFU) is calling on Government to urgently review the 1997 drought policy.
NNFU President, Tobias Emvula, is asking the line ministry to ensure full and timely implementation of the provisions of drought policy, particularly the establishment of the drought fund and the establishment of a standing committee on drought. “The drought policy needs to create benefits for the crop farmers that are similar to those enjoyed by livestock farmers, and it also needs to create benefits accessible to the farmers north of the Veterinary Cordon Fence (VCF),” he says. Emvula adds that there is a serious implementation failure. With the 1997 drought policy having made provision for a drought fund but that as yet has to be established.
The 1997 Drought Policy state that “the government’s obligations to drought relief programmes will in future be funded through the agency of a National Drought Fund. This fund would be legislated for, be a permanent institution, and be managed by an independent Board”. Emvula says 18 years this fund is still not there. “As a union we think that the implementation has failed the policy at some level and it’s unacceptable that whenever we have drought the country should appeal for donations from other countries and from donors when we should have funding’s reserve to cater for drought,” he says.
Emvula further appeals to government to set up a Permanent Standing Committee on Drought to oversee a timely assessment of a drought situation and provide direct feedback to cabinet before “disaster drought” or otherwise can be pronounced. “The drought assessment process should be decentralised to make it faster to gather relevant information needed for drought assessment,” he says,” adding that the system was currently burdened with bureaucracy and too slow and it’s just not compatible with addressing and emergency.
On a positive note, Emvula commends the government for the provision in the policy that provides a livestock marketing subsidy, livestock transport subsidy and a grazing subsidy.
However, he says this subsidy does not benefit everybody especially farmers north of the Veterinary Cordon Fence (VCF), Karakul farmers and livestock producers in the Zambezi. He therefore calls for an urgent independent and comprehensive impact evaluation of the subsidy scheme to provide a clear and conclusive picture.