Farmers pick up where they left off in 2018 on challenges
WINDHOEK – It cannot be much of a holiday for most farmers given the devastating grip under which the country is and has been finding itself, farmers who met last December to wind up the year concluded.
They met in Windhoek under the auspices of Harambee 2030, a farming brainstorm chaired by veteran farmer, Albert Tjihero. The farmers have been meeting under this platform at various venues across the country with the last before one to wind up the year held in Otjinene. Farmers have been meeting to attend to various pertinent issues about, concerning and around farming and agriculture, in order to try and find a solution to them and to help and cause the powers that be find a solution. Under the loop last December were the challenges in farming and how to overcome them with specific reference to drought and how to deal with it; rainfall and the Namibian situation; the marketing situation of livestock; economic outlook and its impact on the agricultural sector; and last but not the least as of recent the increasingly vexed question of the overlap between traditional agricultural shows and modern- day trade fairs and expositions compounded by the entanglement of horse racing in the two former events.
The meeting had the grace of leading experts in their respective fields pertaining to farming and agriculture such as Frank Kanguatjivi of Feedmaster fame; chief veterinarian with special interest in large animal and wildlife, Israel Menunae Kaatura; Goliath Tujendapi manager for Trade with the Meat Board of Namibia (MBN); Bank of Namibia deputy governor, Ebson Uanguta; and one of the old time chief organisers of traditional shows, Katjinduu Tjahuha from Epukiro Constituency who has been a regular as the chief administrator of the livestock section at the Katutura Expo, himself also a regular face at the Okakarara Annual Trade Fair as a judge in the animal section.
Drought aside, the challenges enumerated by speaker after speaker of the eminent team, it was obvious that the festive season that had just come to an end could not be much of a festive period given the pressing going concerns the agricultural sector in the country is facing and has been facing. On the contrary those attending the meeting were expected to retreat in their respective agricultural and farming laagers, reflecting on the various challenges, and going back to the drawing board in this regard. Kanguatjivi could not have been more pertinent and relevant, sharing with the farmers a practical approach to the ongoing devastating drought that given the pertaining conditions of the animals due to drought, it was not advisable to let them go long distances looking for grazing, which for that matter is non-existent in most of the given pastures where most of the farmers are farming, especially in the communal area. Hence the crucial importance of feeding the animals.
Kaatura was of the view that besides the rainfall patterns that are and have been changing due to climatic changes, grazing pastures are also being impacted on by traditional settlements, like more livestock in limited pastures with each farmer fencing off large portions of settlement; deforestation against bush encroachment and the fact that land is not growing while the population is. Tujendapi observed the marked decline in years of livestock production in the country, which the farming communities must seriously take note of. But cautioning most importantly that the government through its policies and strategies does not impact the sector negatively. Tujendapi also noted the evident lack of a voice, especially by the communal farming community with the Namibia National Farmers Union (NNFU), supposedly representing the rural farming communities, being out of tune with the realities of this sector when making policy pronouncements. Similarly, Tujendapi noted emerging communal farmers equally lacking a voice given their hybrid nature, of being neither communal nor fully commercial and thus unable find a home in either the NNFU or the National Agricultural Union (NAU). Resultantly government policies and strategies have been lacking the necessary compass from the relevant communal or emerging commercial farming sector, essentially the sector of the previously disadvantaged farmers.
In light of this realisation, coupled with recent developments, like the plummeting of livestock prices in the country, coupled with the ever absent rain and the outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) in South Africa, that indeed farmers seriously need to go back to the drawing board. In this regard the Omakehe Regional Farmers Union (ORFU) is tomorrow hosting what seems to be an emergency meeting in Gobabis calling all players together. This was preceded by a similar meeting in the Epukiro Constituency convened by councillor Vejama Knaguatjivi, to prepare for the meeting in Gobabis, thus underlying the seriousness with which various leaders seem to view the dire agricultural situation in the country. This, it seems, is only the beginning with other regions to follow suit and eventually all concerned farmers in the country to rally together.
2019-01-29 09:54:00 2 months ago