Agricultural sectors in Namibia on verge of collapse

Namibia’s farming fraternity has warned that the punishing drought in that country, now in its sixth year, could kill off certain sectors of the agricultural industry if the government doesn’t urgently step in to assist farmers.

Dry maize harvests have failed completely and dairy farms in the Hardap Dam area north of Mariental are on the verge of closing because of the dam’s low level.

According to Ryno van der Merwe who chairs the Namibia Agricultural Union (NAU), they have requested a meeting with agricultural minister John Mutorwa but have yet to hear from his ministry.

Van der Merwe said although the government of President Hage Geingob had laid out plans for aid, the NAU was dissatisfied with various aspects of the intended assistance, a matter in which they have the support of the Namibia Emerging Commercial Farmers Union (NECFU).

Various amounts have been bandied about, such as R31.3 million that has been pledged for immediate drought alleviation through feed and livestock sales marketing. An amount of R25 million has also been set aside for immediate marketing of livestock that the NAU and the NECFU agree is not enough.

Questions have also been raised over the apparent exclusion of deed-holding farmers from a pay-out plan for sellers who have traded a certain amount of livestock that was still in fair condition prior to the ravaging drought.

Details of R10 million in aid pledged for grain farmers also appear to be scant, and the NAU and NECFU have stressed that unless urgent ministerial intervention is forthcoming, sections of Namibia’s crippled agricultural sector will collapse.

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