• August 3rd, 2020

Focus shifts to recovery of veld and livestock post drought

Deon Schlechter

WINDHOEK -Recovery after the current disastrous drought is the biggest challenge which the agricultural sector is facing for the next three to five years. 

Considering that Namibia could return to less erratic rainfall pattern, producers will have to enter into a herd building phase which will put an enormous cash flow pressure on producers as they have fewer cattle to market whilst the expenditures and repayment of loans stay the same. 

The Executive Council of the Namibia Agricultural Union (NAU) has determined the most critical factors which have to be attended to recover after the drought.

 On-farm level recovery of grazing, herd building, cash flow management and a positive way of thinking are the most critical actions on which producers have to focus. On a national level, the NAU will investigate options for re-financing of agricultural debt, assistance to NAU members with a cash flow management plan as well as documenting drought lessons which were learned during the past time.
 An effective long-term drought strategy is a critical action, which must be developed and implemented in cooperation with the government to manage future droughts better.

The leadership of all role players in the agricultural sector is of utmost importance to ensure that agriculture returns to its historic production level. 

Meanwhile, the Livestock Producers Organisation Management (LPO) also held a meeting to take stock of the situation in the livestock industry, to address problem areas and to devise plans on how to assist producers in the difficult time they currently need to operate in. 

The feedback from the representatives from the ten regional agricultural unions is that producers are surprisingly positive. The fear is that farmers show a positive face, but that they are indeed facing terrible hardship. 

For small stock producers, there was a relief in the temporary lifting of the small stock marketing scheme. Talks were positive about the way forward and the LPO was excited about the prospect of new input and actions to make sure the momentum was not lost. However, there were still many other issues on the agenda that were unresolved and constantly receiving attention. 

Predators and other problem animals make an already difficult situation even more difficult for livestock producers and a solution is not yet found. RSA’s FMD status and the red tape to bring roughage into the country, along with other import regulations of the RSA, remains a headache. Discussions, of course, also took place about building relationships with partners such as Meatco and Farmers Meat Market, liaising with government, the financial crunch of DVS and its associated impact on service delivery, maintaining the border and veterinary cordon fences and a dozen other issues.

“Whatever the nature of a drought, it follows a certain pattern to which drought management must adapt if the farmer wants to successfully negotiate the dry spell. The central issue is to plan for reducing the risks or minimize the damage, associated with a drought. Contingency drought planning should be a major obligation of every Namibian livestock farmer,” says Dr Axel Rothauge, Namibia’s foremost drought and desertification expert.

“The phase of acute crisis management is followed by a post-drought recovery phase for veld and livestock. The degree of recovery allowed the natural veld after a drought determines its future productivity. If veld is not allowed to recover sufficiently from the effects of drought, its condition and yield will decline quite significantly. It will be further weakened by the next drought, which is sure to follow within a decade, eventually leading to irreversible veld deterioration. Similarly, livestock recovers after a drought by increasing in number, i.e. herd rebuilding, but this can only happen in synchronization with veld recovery,” he observes.


Staff Reporter
2019-08-27 07:31:38 | 11 months ago

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