With the welcome rains that fell over the past few days, communal farmers in the north have started ploughing, although some are worried that the rain will not last and that their crops could fail if the rains are not constant and consistent over the coming weeks.
Farmers are also concerned that should the rain be short-lived their seedlings will die, while the ploughed land will dry up, putting added strain on the farmers to re-plough.
Although many communal farmers in previous years ploughed their fields in November already, some farmers said starting now would not hinder their harvest, provided that the rain is sufficient.
The headman of Ekuku in Oshakati, Levy Shipepe, said the recent rains are a relief for many farmers. He said although ploughing has not really kicked off yet, it is likely to start in earnest soon. Shipepe also expressed satisfaction that, although many livestock tend to die after the first heavy rains following a dry period, he has not seen any dead livestock as result of the recent rains. “The livestock that I have seen still look healthy and I have not seen any animal carcasses since the rain started,” he said.
Senior public relations officer in the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry Margaret Kalo said the ministry is in the process of distributing free seeds to communal farmers. Kalo said the ministry is distributing over 110 000 kg of pearl millet. The Oshana, Ohangwena and Oshikoto regions will receive 20 000 kg each, while farmers in the Kunene will get 1 000 kg.
Communal farmers will also be given over 17 000 kg of cowpeas and 100 000 kg of maize. Kalo said the seeds are sent to the agriculture scientific offices in the regions and will be distributed through the Agriculture Development Centres in the regions, in collaboration with the regional councils.
“We will be giving these seeds to the communal farmers free of charge,” he said. Kalo further said the ministry has 90 000 kg of seed for distribution to communal farmers, which government is subsidising.