Grain levels at national silos countrywide have dipped from 62.91 percent (11 890 tonnes) in June to 34.2 percent (6 466 tonnes) to date due to grain being supplied to drought-affected areas.
The distribution to drought-hit areas is being done through the Office of the Prime Minister in terms of the drought relief programme.
The grain levels will be topped up on a regular basis. It was announced earlier that Namibia is to import 210 000 tonnes of cereal until the next harvest in July 2016 to ensure food security in all regions.
Meanwhile, crop farmers are busy preparing to cultivate their fields.
Explaining the current situation to New Era, the Acting Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry, Abraham Nehemia, said the rain-fed crop-growing regions have already started to prepare for the 2015/16 cropping season.
“It is also important to note that communal farmers in crop-growing regions will receive free seed, including mahangu and maize seed, as part of drought mitigation measures,” he said.
“Maize and mahangu seed are currently being delivered in the crop growing regions,including the northern communal areas.”
Nehemia says the farmers from the river fields of the Zambezi Region started with land preparation and planting in August 2015. A total of 24 tonnes of free maize seed were distributed in August to the farmers. A total of 84 tonnes of maize seed, 20 tonnes of
cowpea and 123 tonnes of mahangu seed were distributed as free seed to farmers in all crop-growing regions.
“Besides the free seed, a total of 60 tonnes of mahangu seed, to be acquired through subsidy, was distributed to various regions.
“An amount of N$ 450 0 00 was made available as seed subsidy for farmers in the Zambezi Region for them to acquire maize seed from private retailers.”
Some N$4.8 million has already been spent on seed for communal farmers, while N$20 million has been budgeted for seed and fertilisers for emerging, commercial and resettled farmers.
This aid will reach farmers soon after agriculture minister John Mutorwa requested the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) to avail N$207 million from the Disaster Fund of the OPM.
The delay in payout to farmers was due to the new budget expenditures announced recently during Finance Minister Calle Schlettwein’s six-month revised budget allocations.
Nehemia also gave the assurance that vouchers for ripping for conservation agriculture practices are currently available at all agricultural development centres in the regions and can be obtained anytime by farmers.
“For example, in the Zambezi Region where farmers from the river fields started planting around August, vouchers were available for farmers to use. Furthermore, ministerial staff in Ohangwena Region started at the end of October, 2015 with the provision of land preparation services, which include ripping, disking, ploughing, planting and fertiliser application, to farmers.”
“In the Oshikoto Region the provision of land preparation services to farmers will commerce mid-November,” he said.