Swakopmund – The severe drought currently being experienced across the country has become a costly affair for farmers in the Erongo Region. Figures availed over the weekend indicate that farmers here have so far lost 4 200 cattle, worth a combined N$15 million to the prevailing drought.
The figure is based on the Meat Board standard value of N$4 553 per head of cattle. However, the losses of the farmers are likely much higher as the said figure of N$15 million excludes small stock, other farm animals and the loss of additional income.
This grim figures were revealed during a donation ceremony on Wednesday where Erongo Regional Council received N$165 000 from Rössing Uranium, Bannerman Resources and Erongo Red to assist people in the current drought. Rössing donated N$100 000, Erongo Red N$50 000 and Bannerman N$15 000.
According to the latest data, farmers in Spitzkoppe and Otjimbingwe lost 700 heads of cattle, while since January Uis farmers lost some 500 cattle to the drought. Okhombahe farmers are said to have lost 600 cattle, while the Topnaar community on the outskirts of Walvis Bay lost 200 cattle, which set the already poverty-stricken community back by some N$910 600 in lost income.
Omatjete farmers are among the hardest hit by the drought and lost a whopping 1 500 heads of cattle this year.
According to Governor of Erongo Region Cleophas Mutjavikua, farmers from the Daures, Karibib and Walvis Bay Rural Constituencies are the worst effected by the drought. He on Wednesday said the situation is dire and as a result Omaheke Regional Council extended a helping hand to farmers in Erongo by allowing them to move some of their cattle to grazing areas in that region.
“Erongo Regional Council will assist farmers, who may not have the means to do so, with transport so that we can remove the farmers as soon as possible before they lose more cattle,” Mutjavikua explained.
The governor also expressed his disappointment that some public institutions are not forthcoming in terms of assisting the farmers, despite the fact that commercial farmers are trying their best to assist subsistence farmers where they can.
Mutjavikua said this forced some farmers to occupy land on nearby farms, or to simply camp alongside the roads.
“Our farmers do not want to live like this. They want to stay on their farms. However, the drought situation forces them to roam around,” he said.
The governor appealed to farmers that have sufficient grazing and water to assist those farmers that are hardest hit by the drought: “It is time that we really assist one another, even if you don’t allow them on your farm, let them cut grass and fetch water for their animals.”