WINDHOEK – More than 41 000 cattle have died over a period of ten months, while serious losses of livestock are currently being experienced across the country due to the severe drought.
According to the ministry of agriculture, over 60 000 livestock, including 41 949 cattle, 10 377 sheep, 25 651 goats and 584 donkeys have perished due to drought between October 2018 and July this year. About 312 horses have also died.
This was announced by agriculture minister Alpheus !Naruseb yesterday upon a New Era enquiry on the total number of livestock deaths.
The shocking statistics come after the July 2019 Synthesis Report on the State of Food and Nutrition Security and Vulnerability in Southern Africa, compiled by the Southern African Development Community (SADC) secretariat regional vulnerability assessment and analysis programme, revealed that over 30 000 drought-related cattle deaths were recorded in Namibia between October 2018 and April 2019 – the normal rainfall season.
“The figures we have been obtaining from the regions through our veterinary services functionaries sum up to 60 000-plus. In terms of livestock losses, the heaviest regions so far affected are Kunene, Omusati, Oshana, Oshikoto, Omaheke, //Kharas and Hardap regions,” !Naruseb said yesterday.
“That is where the farmers were hit the hardest. That adds up to a total of 60 000-plus. This gives you a picture of where the drought has been creating havoc within animal numbers.”
The government drought relief interventions are centered around specific programmes with an initial budget of N$572.7 million.
These are a total amount of N$138.07 million earmarked for livestock support, N$120.127 million allocated towards food provision, N$24 million for logistics and N$290.5 million for water services.
In an engagement with senior government officials and regional governors yesterday on the overview of the status of the drought relief, Prime Minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila said government has noted that the climatic conditions continue to be unfavourable, with negative effects on communities and livestock, as the grazing conditions deteriorate further.
She said a total amount of N$131 million has been spent and committed toward drought relief expenses.
Out of the N$131 million, an amount of N$57.9 million went to food provision; N$18.9 million is for logistics; N$37.5 million has been used for water provision; while N$16.6 million is for livestock support. With the increase in the number of beneficiaries for food relief and fodder, as well as the additional interventions, the budget allocation for drought has increased to N$595.2 million.
The total amount of donations received to date amounts to over N$129 million.
She said following the concerns raised during the town hall meetings about capping the number of beneficiaries for free fodder per region, the cap has now been done away with and all qualifying farmers will be considered within the available budget.
In order to optimise the benefits of this support, she said, as is the case with other drought relief components, timely distribution to beneficiaries is urged.
For the other livestock support, statistics for claims processed as per the regional distribution include 339 as subsidy for fodder and licks to an amount of N$343,341; livestock marketing incentives recorded 665 claims worth N$5.1 million; lease of grazing claims were 35 valued at N$396,600, while 26 claims were for transport subsidy to and from emergency grazing areas worth N$164,274.
She said the challenges related to reliance on conventional grazing of animals has, during this drought period, alerted government to the need to adopt more innovative and drought-resilient methods harnessing new technologies.
She added thatthe introduction of the hydroponic system, which produces fodder in seven days and could feed many cattle, is a case in point.
“As the use of hydroponic system gains momentum among farmers, government has approved a subsidy scheme to support small-scale farmers who want to venture into non-mechanised fodder production,” she said.
The subsidy covers half of the cost of installation of the facility and purchase of seeds. The estimated cost of the facility is about N$10,000, including seeds.
Farmers’ training on the use of hydroponic fodder production is also planned, hence she urged farmers to approach the offices of the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry to participate in the scheme.
According to her, other innovative initiatives that are currently available such as the bush-to-feed production system should be explored by farmers.
A support package will also be developed under the schemes offered through public funding institutions to assist farmers wishing to take up these initiatives.