ONGWEDIVA - Following the devastating drought that led to the loss of thousands of livestock, the president of the Namibian National Farmers Union (NNFU), Jason Emvula, has appealed to financial institutions to extend their repayment grace period and drop their interest charges to allow farmers to restock.
He said although some parts have thus far received sufficient rainfall, many farmers’ livestock perished during the prolonged drought.
“Farmers are really facing a hard time because those that took out loans are not in a position to pay back because the aim was to aid their livestock to survive and generate money to repay,” said Emvula.
He said many farmers heeded the call to destock in order to benefit from the government subsidy on fodder last year.
But even the livestock that was left after destocking did not survive depleting the kraals and their finances altogether.
“If you move around the areas that have received rain, you will notice that there is grass all over, but very minimal livestock and that is the challenge at hand,” said Emvula.
Although that is the case in areas that have received rain, other parts are yet to receive sufficient rain.
Emvula said the //Kharas, Hardap, some parts of Erongo and Kunene have only received minimal rainfall and their livestock are still dying.
The NNFU president said the situation is not only affecting the farmers but the country’s economy as a whole, citing that agriculture is the backbone of the economy.
He said farmers have lost their source of income and, thus, can no longer sustain their families, leading the country further into poverty and unemployment.
“The country’s economy is in trouble because farmers can no longer sustain themselves or afford to send their children to school, meaning that there will be an increase in unemployment and poverty alike,” said Emvula.
Emvula said moving forward, farmer’s organisations, stakeholders and the government should sit to discuss and to pave the way forward.
“We should really discuss what the best option is to face the challenge farmers are facing,” said Emvula.
At the same time, the NNFU president is encouraging crop farmers to go an extra mile to produce food in excess.