Poultry farmers in Omusati region are appealing for the authorities to come to their rescue in supporting them by buying their products that were readily prepared for the Omagongo Cultural Festival, which has been called off indefinitely due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Speaking to New Era recently, David Natangwe, a chicken and quail farmer based in Outapi, said they have worked tirelessly to ensure they had enough stock to supply at Omagongo as required by the organising committee.
Ombalantu Traditional Authority chief Oswin Mukulu in March postponed the Omagongo festival until further notice, which was due to take place this weekend.
Natangwe said he has more than 1 000 quail and 150 marathon chickens that were meant for the event but are now stuck with them at home. Another poultry farmer in Omusati John Pendukeni described the situation unfortunate because he said he had 700 chickens that he was going to supply at the festival but he already lost 80 chicken due to hunger.
“I had enough food to feed the chickens because I was hoping that by this time they are all gone but it turned out the other way around. We are no longer having the feed. We invested everything we had to make sure we would make profit out it. The government should assist us to recover,” Pendukeni explained.
Pendukeni explained they have tried advertising their ready products customers are not forthcoming, adding local restaurants too are not supporting because customers are few. “You know people are encouraged to stay home; people are no longer eating at the restaurant in most cases and weddings are called off. It is a struggle and a big loss,” he lamented.
The regional governor, Erginus Endjala, advised farmers to try their level best to sell their products to avoid more losses. He encouraged them to approach the relevant authority, such as the regional health office and regional council to seek assistance since the government is still using the central procurement act to procure food for catering services. The chairperson of Omagongo Cultural Festival organising committee, Ananias Nashilongo, said they were concerned about the big losses due to the cancellation of the festival. So far, more than 30 000 litres have been collected and is being stored in refrigerators.
Uukwambi Traditional Authority chief Ndilimani Herman Iipumbu, who is also the chairperson of the northern-based traditional authorities, said a new date on the exact hosting of the Omagongo festival will be communicated. “Once all eight traditional authorities sit and discuss what step should be taken, the authority will communicate the event dates, later on after the lockdown,” he said.
-Additional reporting by Vicky Kaapanda