• February 18th, 2020

More ‘drought-breaking’ rain needed says farmers

Namibian Livestock Producers’ Organisation chairperson Thinus Pretorius says despite good rains received in most parts of the country, more rain is still needed to break the current drought that has ravaged the country for the past seven years.

“We need considerably more widespread rain. Because of the drought, the pressure on grazing has been immense. The roots of grazing species have been largely destroyed and much more rain is needed for the seeds that remained in the soil to germinate and grow,” Pretorius said.
He added that very little rain has been reported this season to the far north and south of the capital city, Windhoek.

According to Pretorius, while livestock numbers had been cut to the core, the genetics that remained on the farms were of top quality.

He explained that producers got rid of all the animals that had not performed optimally in the drought. “They only retained the best animals to build up herds after the drought is broken,” he added.
“It is not only the volume of rain that matters but also when it falls. If little growth occurs after the early spring rain, even follow-up rain in January will not be enough to kick-start grass growth,” he said. 
However, he said if the rest of the growing season – February/March – gets rainfall of about 30% above average, veld in good condition can regain enough vigor to recover before autumn. 

In this case, Pretorius said soil fertility, which may have improved because of root dieback, will help to speed up growth.

According to the latest Agricultural Inputs and Household Food Security situation report, livestock body condition has been worsening as drought strengthens with livestock mortalities as a result of severe malnutrition on the rise. 

The report says the entire country is almost equally affected, except few areas in the Kavango East and Zambezi regions – where there is few grazing – and in the commercial areas due to intensive supplementary feeding. 

“The livestock condition is poor to fair, rated at body condition score of 1- 2 in most areas such as Groot Aub, Kanubeb, Dordabis, Arovlei and Versailles in Khomas region,” reads the report. 
However, the report said with the recent good rainfall reported in various parts of the country, as well as more good rainfall predicted, livestock conditions are expected to improve as the season progresses. 
Also, the report says the grazing conditions have been deteriorating severely throughout the country following severe drought conditions experienced last season. 

The situation according to the report is said to have exacerbated by the delayed rainy season, as well as the general poor rainfall performance reported in the first two months (October & November) of the season. Consequently, many farmers have lost their livestock as a result of lack of grazing and water. 
In the Omaheke region, the situation was noted to be bad, with only few spots of fair grazing in few areas such as Eiseb block and Otjinene. In Kunene, //Karas, Hardap, Erongo, Khomas, Otjozondjupa, Omusati, Oshana, Ohangwena and Oshikoto regions, grazing is very critical, ranging between very poor and bare ground, with high livestock mortalities and some farmers reported to have lost all their livestock. 
The unevenly distributed rains, heat waves and prolonged dry spells experienced in the previous season resulted in poor grass production and livestock are surviving on the woody materials for fodder. 

Kuzeeko Tjitemisa
2020-02-04 08:00:37 | 14 days ago

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