OMUTHIYA - Sporadic rainfall being experienced and coupled with high temperatures and a resultant dry spell have instilled a sense of fear among northern farmers who are now clinging on to their produce, and only availing small quantities for selling to Agro-Marketing and Trade Agency (Amta), a government agency, to ensure food security.
Amta says it has observed a decline in some regions with fewer farmers coming on board while some are bringing in less than what they had registered for, in an effort to save for the future in a likely case they do not have a good harvest.
“Under the current state, there is no prospect of a good harvest, unless a miracle happens. As much as I appreciate the resumption of Amta to buy our surplus mahangu, which was also getting spoiled, I will not sell everything. I will rather save for future in order to make it through to the next season,” said Erastus Shihepo, a farmer from OkashanakIiyanda, who brought about 20 bags to sell to the agency.
“I still have a lot of mahangu at home, but I will not sell it all,” he added, saying last year they were adversely affected as they had no market to sell their mahangu, which is their only source of income. “In the absence of that, I had to be selling my cattle or goats in order to make money and bring food on the table,” stated Shihepo.
As observed, many farmers in Oshikoto have not ploughed their field, as there is no sufficient rain, while a handful that did, the crops are already wilting.
Farmers struggled to sell their produce last year, and after a government resolution, Amta opened its doors and started the procurement process last month. Despite this good deed, some are still hesitant. The process is likely to go on until all the Mahangu is bought, although Amta’s procurement season starts from May to October.
Sharing similar sentiments was another farmer Albertina Hamupembe, who brought three bags, and stated she cultivated her field but the crops are already dying due to the scorching sun. “If it doesn’t rain we are dying of hunger this year, I hope government can devise plans already on how people can be assisted,” said Hamupembe, indicating she will also not sell everything.
A reliable source who spoke to New Era on condition of anonymity, Amta planned to end procurement in some regions last week, if no new farmers bringing mahangu for sale.
“The number of farmers registered was high, but delivery is low in some areas due to fear of drought and prospects of a poor harvest, hence the farmers do not want to dispose of everything,” stressed the source, adding that Oshikoto was one of the regions with more registered farmers bringing produce.
An estimated 550 farmers are registered on Amta master procurement list for Oshikoto, with a production projection of 800 tonnes, added the source. Furthermore, the source said the buying process in Oshikoto will continue for an indefinite period until they are satisfied they have bought all the available mahangu. Under the procurement season, they are purchasing using Grade 2.
“We use Grade 2, because this is beyond the buying season of May-October, after that the grain is classified substandard as it is considered to be spoiled by insects and unclean, thus the standard goes down. We use a certain level of tolerance as opposed to when we buy based on Grade 1,” further stressed the source.
Amta is buying at N$4.90 per kilogram.
Efforts to get comment from Amta’s spokesperson Meke Uushona on the current procurement process proved futile, and by the time of going to print she had not responded to detailed questions send to her last week despite promising to do so.
2019-02-27 09:32:36 4 months ago