Farmers at the drought-stricken Otjimbingwe settlement in Daures Constituency in the Erongo Region say they have lost a combined income of N$10 million since November 2015 due to the drought.
According to the farmers, they have lost 1 318 cattle, 2 483 goats, 3 252 sheep and 26 horse and donkeys since November 2015 to date.
The figure of N$10 million was confirmed yesterday by Governor of the Erongo Region Cleophas Mutjavikua. It is estimated on the basis of the Meat Board standard value of N$4 553 per head of cattle, N$756 per sheep and N$775 per goat.
There are about 6 000 communal farmers affected by the drought in the Daures Constituency, where farming is the prime source of income for most residents of the area. Some farmers are now grazing their livestock along public roads in a desperate attempt to save their only source of income.
Speaking on behalf of the desperate farmers, senior headman of the Tsoaxdaman Traditional Authority Jonathan Neumbo said Otjimbingwe is one of the settlements that never recovered from the 2013/2014 drought and is thus feeling the pinch of the drought more acutely than most other places in the country.
According to Neumbo, Otjimbingwe is also overcrowded and thus the effect of the drought is severe in the settlement.
“Our cattle have been dying like flies. Our people don’t have food and barely drinking water for themselves. I think our Ministry of Water, Agriculture and Forestry must really visit the Daures Constituency to see how severe the situation is,” said Neumbo.
He appealed to government to assist the farmers with fodder to feed productive animals and also to look at a restocking scheme, while at the same time making transport available to move cattle and livestock to other communal areas for grazing.
“Otjimbingwe area should also be declared a disaster area and should be treated as such. We need to look at relocating some of the farmers and acquire more resettlement farms, as the situation in Otjimbingwe cannot continue like this,” Neumbo said.
Asked about the drought situation in the Otjimbigwe area, Governor of Erongo Cleophas Mutjavikua confirmed that it is indeed severe and called it “a disaster” that needs urgent attention.
“Those farmers are struggling and one cannot even describe how [bad] the situation is. Those farmers need assistance as soon as possible,” he said. Mutjavikua during his State of the Region Address also urged government to act on the matter before it is too late.
He said some farmers, who are able to move their animals about in search of grazing, have been moving to Otjinene in Omaheke and Okakarara in the Otjozondjupa region, while those who do not have the means to do so have no choice but to stay put.