Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Water and Forestry Anna Shiweda on Tuesday handed over 460 goats to 20 households in the Khorixas Constituency to improve the livelihoods of the beneficiary households.
The goats are part of the Small Stock Development and Distribution to Communal Areas (SSDDCA) project, which is run by the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry.
Kunene is the second region after Kavango West to benefit from the project after the first beneficiaries received goats in May 2015.
“What we’re witnessing here today is an historic intervention by the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry in its continuous drive to improve the livelihoods of the rural farmers and to contribute to food security,” Shiweda told the audience at Khorixas Youth Hall.
The beneficiaries were selected by their peers with the assistance of the traditional and political leadership, and not by the staff of the agriculture ministry, an approach Shiweda says would create a sense of ownership.
Due to the significant positive impact of the Small Stock Support Projects (SSSP), the ministry initiated the SSDDCA as a follow-up phase. The SSSP was first piloted and implemented in the Hardap, //Karas and Omaheke regions in 2008 to address the scourge of poverty within those communities.
The number of animals donated has since increased from the initial 2 961 to a total 7 350, with a combined value of N$6.6 million. With the additional assistance of Skorpion Zinc Mine a total of 16 beneficiaries received goats in 2012 in the //Karas region and it has benefitted 20 beneficiaries to date.
Initially the Kunene region was intended to benefit at the same time as Kavango West region, but due to drought that affected the entire country the exercise had to be postponed to allow rangelands to improve.
“Prior to this event the ministry had consulted with the technical staff members in the region regarding the grazing conditions to confirm that the grazing conditions had improved and it was confirmed that the available vegetation will be sufficient to sustain the breeding animals that are handed over today,” said Shiweda.
Kunene Regional Governor Angelika Muharukua praised former presidents Hifikepunye Pohamba and Sam Nujoma, as well as incumbent President Hage Geingob for coming up with seminal projects aimed at eradicating poverty.
Muharukua however told Shiweda: “I hope you brought along fodder. Our region is drought stricken from chickens, people to animals.”
The governor further warned residents of the region to stop politicising projects, such as the SSDDCA and instead join hands to develop the region. Beneficiaries were warned by Muharukua not to slaughter the animals, but instead to use the milk and butter derived from them to benefit their families and communities.
Khorixas Constituency Councillor Elias //Aro Xoagub in his welcoming remarks said: “Khorixas Constituency offers numerous promising opportunities – not only in agriculture – but also in other sectors, such as tourism and mining.”
Beneficiaries were told the project is aimed at providing to selected households quality core breeding stock derived from locally bred small stock in order to generate income to supply food and improve their social and economic wellbeing.
The handover was attended by special advisor for Kunene South John //Khamuseb, Kunene Regional Council chairperson Julius Kaujova, Kamanjab Constituency Councillor Engenesia Tjaritje-Esingue, deputy director of the north western division Erich Petrus, #Aodaman Chief Petrus Ukongo, as well as traditional leaders of the Swartbooi and //Gaoio Daman traditional authorities.