President Hage Geingob yesterday launched ‘Operation Tulongeni’ for the 2017 cultivation season to motivate rural farmers to optimally utilise the farming equipment subsidised by government.
The launch took place at Onamundidi village in the Ogongo Constituency of Omusati Region yesterday afternoon.
Geingob, who braved the scorching sun to plough with donkeys in a symbolic gesture, echoed sentiments contained in his New Year’s message to the effect that 2017 is ‘The Year of Rededication’, and that he expects people to talk less and work hard.
“Last year was the year of implementation, but this is a year of hard work,” President Geingob said.
He further explained that the initiative is aimed at encouraging farmers to work hard to secure food, as good rains are predicted this rainy season.
Putting word to deed, Geingob wasted little time on speech-making and headed straight to the mahangu fields of Mateus Iilonga to plough the field with donkeys. He did this to inspire hard work, he said.
The operation is an initiative of the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry and is part of the Dry Land Crop Production Programme (DCPP) implemented by government in 2008 to accelerate the provision of subsidised farm inputs and services to farmers in the crop-growing regions.
Omusati Governor Erginus Endjala welcomed the move. “This initiative will increase the use of improved seeds and enhance knowledge on appropriate farming techniques in the northern communal areas and other regions, such as Otjozondjupa and Omaheke,” he said.
Endjala noted that there is currently a high demand for improved seeds due to the recurrent drought and floods being experienced in the country.
The governor further explained that the exorbitant prices for ploughing services charged by some private tractor owners, have resulted in high demand for government tractors by farmers, thereby posing a challenge of demand exceeding supply.
“Fertilisers given to some farmers through this programme are suspected or alleged to be sold by beneficiaries, particularly across the Namibian borders,” he noted.
He said in Omusati they also face a challenge in that the region does not have sufficient funds to cater for all farmers who reside there. Omusati currently has 20 tractors, of which 19 were bought by government and one acquired through a project funded by the Global Environment and Tourism Fund.
Last year privately-owned tractors ploughed 1 466 hectares and served 984 farmers in Omusati Region.