Windhoek-The executive council of the Namibian Agricultural Union (NAU) last week held urgent discussions regarding the imminent drought and the repercussions thereof, especially on farmers who have received inadequate rains for the past five years.
The council made it clear that a national crisis looks unavoidable and that action plans will have to be implemented speedily to assist members who have received below normal rainfall for the past five years. The council resolved to inform the government and the public about this serious situation. Furthermore, the council noted that less hay will be available due to the drought and that the focus should be to look for other alternatives for these farmers to help them to survive in these difficult times. Interested farmers are requested to draft a CV with information about their education, interests, etc., and to send it to their regional representatives whereafter alternative income opportunities will be considered.
Last week, Farmers Forum witnessed the effects of the devastation of years of low rainfall first-hand on the farms Liefde, Geloof and Hoop between Gobabis and Aranos where farmer Freddie Dreyer has received a mere 31mm of rain since October last year. He agrees with NAU that massive efforts were needed to help scores of farmers, especially communal and emerging farmers, back onto their feet. Last year, NAU launched a very successful project to assist drought-stricken farmers in the Warmbad and Bethanie areas. The project was the brainchild of the Dordabis Farmers Association with NAU as coordinator and has been hailed as one of the most successful drought aid projects ever whereby farmers in the north of Namibia assisted their counterparts at NAU, regional agricultural unions and other farmers associations in the south.
But far from being despondent, Dreyer, a tough-as-nails farmer from the south-eastern parts of the country puts his trust in God and believes relief is on its way. “My neighbours and myself have started with action plans to counter the effects of the drought. I have moved all my cattle to a friend’s farm, who has good grazing for rent. It’s sad to be in a situation where you have to rent land to keep your cattle alive but my beloved 80 Angus and Simmentaler animals are my livelihood. I was forced to reduce my sheep herd to about 600 of the best Dorper ewes. I will feed them until it becomes impossible to pay all the debts and then sell at hopefully good prices. I also have some 15 game species on the farm and I am contemplating looking into this sector for a better income,” he noted.
Framers Forum has also established that the race is on for fodder. Lucerne is readily available in Windhoek and most agricultural hubs at prices hovering around N$100 per bale while some producers are advertising buffalo grass, sorghum and oat grass at prices varying between N$95 and N$115 per bale.