KEETMANSHOOP - The current drought in the south of Namibia does not only bring farmers to their knees, but in addition it also has a dreadful chain reaction from suppliers down to labourers and the general public at large, said Hansie Esterhuyse, the chairperson of the Karasberg Farmers Association and renowned expert in the agricultural/ farming sector.
He made these remarks during an exclusive interview with New Era when he was probed on the effects of the drought situation. “Being involved in the farming insurance business for many years, it is quite disheartening to observe that about 95 percent of farmers have withdrawn almost all their available financial resources as a means for surviving this national crisis,” Esterhuyse explained with concern. He added that 80 percent of farmers are furthermore running their farms on bank overdrafts out of desperation. The farmer further said suppliers are also negatively affected by the drought, as farmers can no more purchase goods and materials from them.
He emphasised that 20 percent of all farms in the south are deserted, as farmers have been forced to sell all their livestock. “I had personally suffered tremendous losses, which include losing 108 Springboks, 21 Oryx and close to 300 Sheep,” he shared.
Esterhuyse continued there are almost no grazing available on farms, forcing farmers to chop down bushes and mix it with mealies and other substances as a means to provide food for their animals.
“Farmers are nowadays forced to retrench their workers, as they cannot afford to keep them employed anymore, which in turn has a very negative effect on the socio-economic circumstances in the country,” he noted. The farmer then added that this brought about an influx of farm workers to urban areas, where crime is prevailing due to poverty and high unemployment levels.
Referring to assistance programmes in place, Esterhuyse mentioned that the Namibia Agricultural Union has a programme in place, whereby they have assisted farmers to the tune of N$10 million from donations they received from individuals and organisations.
“Organisations from South Africa are also assisting these farmers through sending consignments of fodder to relieve their plight,” he added.
As a matter of concern, Esterhuyze mentioned that the qualifying criteria to receive assistance through the Government’s drought relief programme has made many farmers deciding to rather not apply for the assistance, since it is not user friendly. “Another concern is that most of this aid goes towards food programmes for the poor, neglecting the farmers who must produce to survive and contribute towards the country’s economy,” he stated.
According to Esterhuyze, it will take another 10 months for farmers to get their weak animals ready to produce if good rains eventually come.
“Especially the ewes must first adapt to new circumstances and get power after the rains first before one can allow them to produce,” he explained.
The farmer was furthermore of the opinion that it will take an average farmer up to three years to reach the status of productivity as was the case prior to the recurrent droughts.
In conclusion, he said farmers still remain positive, hoping for good rains – but fear exists that this positive attitude might not last for long, as rains are generally unpredictable.
2019-12-04 07:34:02 | 3 months ago