Cultivating their crop fields shortly after the onset of the early rainfall last November has so far delivered good results for several crop farmers in various constituencies of the communal dryland cropping regions of Oshikoto, Oshana, Ohangwena and Omusati.
Among these crop farmers is Priskila Andreas from Onethindi village in Olukonda Constituency who said the moment the first rains fell she called a private tractor owner to plough the rest of her mahangu field.
“I ploughed and planted immediately after the first rains towards the end of November last year that is why you see my mahangu crop and other crops are growing well,” remarked Andreas.
She said while she is happy she started early, her crops are a target of small and large livestock in the surroundings which keep on straying onto her field and eating up her crops. But she has been able to cope by constantly chasing them away.
Andreas is optimistic that if after the current dry spell it rains she expects a good harvest of mahangu, sorghum, beans and watermelon, among others, this season.
Andreas’ optimism was echoed by Nangula Mbandeka a resident of Othimbika village in Okankolo Constituency. She said the area has received good rain and that crops are doing well because of ground moisture.
“The only challenge we are facing now is a green worm pest that has popped up and is threatening to destroy our crops,” observed Mbandeka.
She did not mention if farmers in that area have informed agricultural officials about the problem.
Mbandeka said she ploughed her field with the ripper plough tractor which she said has not impressed her at all, claiming that it leaves a space that has weeds between the ripped parts.
However, she is happy that her crops are doing well and that grazing conditions have improved considerably to an extent that the livestock that suffered the impact of the drought of the past year are looking good.
Linus Mateus from Iiweelo village also in Okankolo Constituency earlier this year was in search of a tractor to plough the rest of his crop field. But he was not just waiting for the tractor while doing nothing.
“I ploughed a few hectares of my field with a donkey plough and the crop is growing well,” a beaming Mateus pointed out.
He also mentioned that grazing has improved tremendously to such an extent that the cattle are shiny and fat compared to the same time last year when some had to be fed and a few succumbed to drought.
Currently even though the availability of government and private tractors continues to be inadequate many crop farmers managed to have their fields ploughed. They are now waiting for more rain.
The government through the Dry Land Crop Production Program has made available 120 public tractors to assist farmers with ploughing their fields in 10 regions of the country.
Besides the ploughing services government also subsidises seeds and fertilizer for farmers and work done by jobless youth.
Since the introduction of this program close to 60 000 farmers have benefitted from cheaper ploughing services.
Almost 15 farmers made use of weeding services and close to a 100 000 peasant farmers received subsidised seeds, while slightly over 22 000 received fertilizer.
The hectares that were ploughed during the period under review are just above 90 000 while those that were weeded are slightly over 30 000.