Omusati relies heavily on crop production

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Staff Reporter
Windhoek

At least 97 percent of the communities in Omusati rely on crop production, followed by Kunene with only 20 percent.

In the Erongo region 96 percent of households reported that they were reliant on livestock farming followed by Kunene at 72 percent.

These figures emerged from an assessment conducted towards the end of last year by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations (FAO), in collaboration with the government to ascertain the needs of the worst hit communities (Erongo, Kunene and Omusati) as a way to inform emergency response and programming.

Pearl millet (mahangu) and maize were the main crops cultivated in terms of area allocated in the Kunene and Omusati regions respectively during the 2015/16 season. The average crop losses for maize were 94.7 percent and 72.6 percent in the Omusati and Kunene regions respectively.

In addition to the sharp decline in production, the reduction in hectares under cultivation and limited rainfall have capped the demand for casual labour for planting and weeding – a key source of income during the agricultural season.

The number of households that derived income and grain from casual labour significantly decreased during the 2015/16 agricultural season, the report states.

They conducted the assessment to ascertain the impact of the drought on the affected communities to guide the formulation of broad-based FAO interventions.

The interventions aimed at addressing the impacts of El Niño induced drought on agriculture and food and nutrition security, specifically in the regions of Erongo, Kunene and Omusati, and to better target beneficiaries with appropriate interventions.

Recurring drought conditions caused by erratic and persistently below normal rainfall performance during the 2013/14, 2014/15 and 2015/16 rainfall seasons severely affected agricultural production in most parts of the Republic of Namibia.

This adversely affected the food security status of the subsistence farmers by reducing their access to food and potential income from sale of agricultural products. The poor condition of the animals also resulted in unfavourable market prices for livestock.

For the restoration of crop production, communities in Kunene indicated the drilling and solar powering of boreholes as their first priority, followed by fencing of fields to prevent crop damage by wildlife and lastly the provision of agricultural inputs.

Communities in Omusati prioritised the provision of agriculture inputs, followed by the drilling of boreholes and rehabilitation of dams and canals and lastly support with draught power, through subsidised ploughing services.

In the medium to long-term, Kunene prioritised the provision of inputs while Omusati prioritised the development of water infrastructure, that is, the drilling and solar powering of boreholes and rehabilitation of dams.

The assessment reveals that at least 70 percent of the interviewed communities in the three regions own goats and poultry. Of the households that own cattle, the average herd sizes were 30, 25 and 13 in Erongo, Kunene and Omusati regions respectively.

Generally, the results show that cattle were the most affected by drought among the main livestock species. At the time of conducting the assessment, most of the livestock were reported to be generally in a condition ranging from very poor to fair.

Direct observations in the areas visited showed that the higher temperatures, drier climatic conditions and poor rainfall performance had resulted in extremely poor veld condition. In Kunene and Erongo especially, the rangeland is mostly bare, with little ground cover.

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