Erongo farms overstocked, in jeopardy

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Swakopmund

Livestock farmers in Otjimbingwe and Omatjete have exceeded the area’s carrying capacity by up to five times, thus jeopardising the drought-stricken farms.

The two settlements are situated in Daures Constituency in the Erongo Region.
According to some experts as well as the Governor of the Erongo Region, Cleophas Mutjavikua, who visited the area last week, Otjimbingwe and Omajette in light of the recurring drought could face permanent damage due to overgrazing and carrying too many livestock. The situation thus needs to be addressed urgently.

During a briefing last week Mutjavikua said farmers were under the misplaced impression that recurent drought is only caused by poor rain.

“Some situations are man-inflicted and if we don’t change the mindset of our farmers as soon as possible these damages could be lasting,” he said.

According to Mutjavikua, Omatjete is carrying large livestock three times more than its carrying capacity, while small stock is almost five times the capacity.

“This means that these areas have recurrent drought even with enough rain or water available as the grazing areas are not given enough time to rehabilitate naturally. As for Otjimbingwe it is the same. The livestock in these two settlements are almost five times the carrying capacity they offer and this is not good at all for our region and farmers in the long run,” he stated. He said that government managed to secure a few farms in the region to alleviate the situation and try to reverse environmental damage.

“However this will not do much as there is a lack of grazing and in some parts despite receiving rain the grass is not growing back. This shows us how serious the matter is. What our farmers don’t understand is that the carrying capacity is determined scientifically and it is impossible to carry more stock even if you have a larger farm or receive rain regularly or have water. Our people need to be taught about sustainable farming,” the governor elaborated.

He added that ancestral beliefs as well as the fact that wealth is measured by the amount of cattle or other livestock farmers have, are also major issues that need to be addressed.
“Our population is growing and that puts pressure on our farmland. Therefore we must work on a way forward to shift the mindset of farmers. We held a series of meetings last week with farmers to explain the situation and are also working on various ways to provide water, as well as to grow grass to rehabilitate the land and drill more boreholes in some areas,” he said.

He said government has come up with a scheme to assist farmers.
“These are issues that we are currently looking at, but it is an uphill battle for some farmers to understand as many have been farming for years using the same practices,” he said.

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