WINDHOEK – Following the declaration of a national state of emergency with respect to drought by President Hage Geingob on Monday, the government-owned Agricultural Bank of Namibia (Agribank) said yesterday that it will announce by the end of this week a range of initiatives to support its customers affected by drought.
Agribank chief executive officer Sakaria Nghikembua told New Era upon inquiry yesterday that the parastatal has a range of initiatives for affected farmers, which it plans to share with its customers by the end of this week.
“As you know, President Geingob declared the drought as an emergency and he also indicated that all offices, ministries and agencies will be mobilised to respond and from our side as Agribank we do have a plan to respond and we want to properly introduce it to the public before the end of this week,” he said briefly.
In 2017, Agribank said it is owned monies in excess of about N$500 million by emerging black commercial farmers. Ever since, the bank and emerging black commercial farmers have been at each other’s throats (credit listing) with farmers accusing the bank of black-listing them on the ITC, thereby crippling them financially.
But the bank responded that credit listing is only done as a mechanism of last resort for clients who repeatedly fail to honour their repayment obligations.
Meanwhile, Cabinet in March this year announced that it has approved a comprehensive drought relief intervention worth N$572.7 million to assist drought-affected communities in communal areas, who are grappling with the prevailing drought.
The country has been experiencing a persistently stubborn drought for the past six years, which has killed an unspecified number of livestock across the country, estimated to be worth millions of dollars.
Information minister Stanley Simataa in announcing government’s drought relief intervention said drought relief would be controlled by the National Emergency Disaster Fund, where the ministries of defence and health would have to avail facilities and support for the implementation thereof.
He said the money will cover food assistance, water tanks, livestock management incentives, transport subsidy to and from grazing areas, transport for fodder, lease of grazing area, subsidy for crop farmers, lick supplements and fodder subsidy.
However, he said this would be done on condition that farmers should bring down their stock levels to at least 25 cattle and one bull per affected farmer, Nampa reported.
“The rest [farmers] who want to keep more [breeding stock] will not be compelled [to reduce them], but we are appealing to them to reduce to reasonable numbers that they can build when the situation changes,” the news agency quoted Simataa at the time.
In his declaration on Monday, Geingob said “following consultations with Cabinet and the wider government system, I declare under Article 26 of the Namibian Constitution that a State of Emergency exists on account of the natural disaster of drought in all regions of the Republic of Namibia.”
This is the third time in six years that the government has declared a state of emergency.
The Head of State said all offices, ministries and agencies and all other stakeholders will be mobilised to ensure that the necessary assistance is rolled out to affected communities.
2019-05-08 08:38:14 11 days ago