Windhoek-Consecutive droughts have left Ongombe Farmers Association (OFA) paralysed and unable to stage the 29th Okamatapati Show – the annual highlight for more than 600 communal farmers and their livestock.
Confirming the sad news to communal and emerging farmers, chief organiser of the show Albert Tjihero told Farmers Forum that the financial burden on communal farmers has just become too much after consecutive droughts since 2013.
“Circumstances beyond their control have made it extremely difficult for members of our association to rebuild stocks and the current financial crisis has left most of them cash-strapped and simple unable to face more expenses by transporting their animals to either Windhoek or Otjiwarongo for the annual Okamatapati Show,” Tjihero said.
He added that the OFA has since 2013 been warning against this very unfortunate situation by appealing to commercial farmers and all roleplayers in the meat industry to support the OFA in its endeavour to stage the show annually and make it an event Namibians will be proud of.
“We have since then struggled to get financial support from sponsors, but times are tough for everyone and we had to cancel the event. The Windhoek Show Society demands up-front payment of some N$60,000 to make use of its facilities and on top of that farmers have to transport their animals to the capital at great expense and provide feed for an entire week.
“The OFA faced a tight budget having to raise more than N$250,000 for the show to take place. It’s just not possible to expect that from them in these trying financial times,” Tjihero states.
The OFA was established in July 1983 and has been a major influence as a mouthpiece for communal farmers ever since. Tjihero says communal and emerging farmers have shown extraordinary commitment and dedication in ensuring the annual show takes.
The Okamatapati Show and its organisers made headlines at the end of the show in 2013 at the Windhoek Show Grounds when they were shown the door by the Windhoek Show Society (WSC) and forced to stage its annual show in Otjiwarongo in 2014.
But the show returned to Windhoek in 2015 and 2016 after burying the hatchet with the WSC. The WSC accused exhibitors at the Okamatapati Show of damaging the infrastructure during their first show at the Windhoek Show Grounds in 2013.
“In this changed and weakened landscape, we need Namibian farmers to stand shoulder to shoulder and face the challenges. We need each other more than ever before and I therefore find it strange that some white farmers still regard most black farmers as inferior. Ironically, most of these white farmers have inherited good farmland, unlike most black farmers who had to wait for affirmative action and resettlement farms,” Tjihero notes.
He adds that the government must also come to the party. “While I urge white farmers with lots of land to make available something for potentially excellent black farmers, I also urge government to stick to their promises of land reform and speed up the process. Another disturbing fact is the amount of farmland in the hands of foreigners. It’s absurd,” he observed.