HOACHANAS - Even though the country is facing one of the worst droughts recorded, crop farmers in the Hardap Region are not deterred as they continue using the little resources they have in order to make ends meet.
The resettled farmers at Bernafay agricultural project and Westfallen in Mariental Rural Constituency said that they will not solely rely on the government’s drought relief programme but will use all resources at their disposal to avert the effects of the drought in order to remain productive. During her recent visit to the region last month to assess the drought, Deputy Prime Minister Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah urged farmers to practise solidarity amongst themselves and share resources in order to meet the government halfway and mitigate the impact of drought.
Nandi-Ndaitwah said the Office of the Prime Minister would implement drought response mechanisms which include providing those affected by severe drought with food, water, and also provide livestock with the necessary feed.
The farmers, who have lived on the farms for years, currently receive assistance from government in the form of seeds. They grow orange orchards, onions as well as potatoes which they sell to generate income for each household.
According to Frans Ashipala from farm Westfallen, situated near Hoachanas, the farmers were initially seven and used to cultivate sweet potatoes and maize but the number has reduced to only three farmers living at the resettlement farm.
“When we started this plantation in 2002 the project was going great. We had plenty of rain then. The current drought is hard on the crops especially the orange orchards which require plenty of water,” said Ashipala.
He said that production at the farm is slow because of poor rainfall, adding that production is affected because of less manpower. “The kind of work needed to be done here requires at least six workers for production to increase,” Ashipala said.
He says that income generated from the profits of selling the crops is kept in an account which the three farmers share amongst themselves. He says working on the farm helps him to generate some income as opposed to just sitting idle at his village in the north.
“It is also better than just asking my siblings for money – at least now I have some form of income to send to my wife and children even though it is not a lot. I would like to encourage other crop farmers facing the drought to keep on working until the rain comes,” Ashipala said.
Another resettled farmer, Magdalena Jossob, who is the chairperson of Bernafay agricultural project, said the farmers who resettled on the farm in 1996 started an orange plantation which she says is very successful and has provided the households with income derived from the sale of the oranges.
Apart from oranges, the farmers at Bernafay also grow vegetables such as onions and potatoes. Jossob says during the rainy season they receive a substantial amount of water, which they use to water the plants especially the orchids.
She says that although the drought is not making things easier for them, they want to show the government that they can be productive during these trying times of drought.
Another farmer, Anna Erland, emphasised the need to become self-sufficient in order to become more productive and meet government halfway.
“We are grateful to government for its assistance thus far as it has provided us with seeds. We purchase our own diesel to pump the water from the borehole using the proceeds from the oranges that we sell,” she said.
* Hilmah Hashange is an information officer for the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology (MICT) in Hardap Region.