Livestock farmers in the cattle-farming region of Omaheke have lost hundreds of animals due to the persistent and severe drought gripping the country.
Omaheke Region, popularly known as ‘Cattle Country’, is home to the majority of commercial cattle farmers in the country, but farmers in the region are starting to feel the full wrath of the failed rainy season as cattle, goats and sheep continue to die in large numbers because there is simply no grazing.
Speaking to New Era yesterday, Aminuis Constituency Councillor Peter Kazongominja said many farmers in the area have simply lost all hope. “Communal farmers here have lost so many cattle. I receive many calls from farmers complaining to me about losing their livestock,” he said.
Kazongominja appealed to the Office of the Prime Minister to start distributing drought relief food in the area. He also called on government to speed up the marketing incentive scheme that subsidises farmers who sold livestock. The subsidy has not been paid to some farmers since last year, he said.
According to the government’s subsidy programme, farmers who sell their livestock are entitled to a subsidy of N$400 per head of cattle sold and N$80 per small livestock.
Kazongominja further appealed to the government to take a fresh look at the effect the drought is having on people in the constituency. He said the constituency has so far received only 26 millimetres of rain, far below the normal figure of 80 millimetres at this time of the year.
Otjombinde Constituency Councillor Katjanaa Kaurivi said their area is also heavily affected by the drought that has ravaged many parts of the country. Kaurivi called on government to send a team to assess first-hand the situation on the ground.
He said if farmers are to survive, the government must come up with some form of subsidy, as the drought situation has reached a critical stage and the animals are dying. He said many residents would face starvation if nothing is done. “There is no grass at all. People are selling their cattle at deplorable prices,” said the councillor.
Otjinene Constituency Councilor Edwin Katjizeu said Otjinene is also heavily affected by drought. “I’m still to receive complaints of cattle dying in this constituency, but I can assure you that the drought is about to sweep away our livestock,” he said. He said if the situation is not countered early, many animals would die and the majority of communal farmers would need years to recover. He suggested that government distribute more drought aid. “So far residents are only receiving porridge,” he said.
Officers at Omaheke Regional Emergency and Disaster Risk Management Office were not available for comment yesterday.