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Farmers Kraal | NCA farmers deserve a pat on the back

2022-04-12  Charles Tjatindi

Farmers Kraal | NCA farmers deserve a pat on the back

Charles Tjatindi

Communal farmers north of the Veterinary Cordon Fence (VCF), infamously known as the ‘Red Line’, deserve applause. How these farmers have worked to create a market for the products, despite the restrictions that come with the Red Line, is commendable.  

Operating north of the Red Line means none of your products as a farmer may leave the area, which means all that is produced in that region should be consumed and used strictly there.  

This may sound ordinary to those south of the Red Line, but to farmers north of this problematic divide, it is a daily hardship they have had to contend with. 

It is a fact that the area south of the Red Line is more lucrative in prices, especially for livestock and farmers in the Northern Communal Areas (NCA) denied such privilege. But what is encouraging is that these farmers have refused to lie down and worked hard to have a market that would save their products, which would have been otherwise rendered useless in the absence of a market.

Through such gallant effort, they have managed to eke out a life for themselves by being able to sell off some of their products. This is, of course, although they would be getting much more for their products if it were not for the politics of the Red Line.

This is a story worth writing home about – a story about a people that determined their fate by making lemonade out of the countless lemons thrown at them. The prices might not be great, but they have been sustaining the farmers. 

In fact, at times, the margin between a goat’s price south of the VCF and that of one in the NCA is very thin. This is a story of hope, indeed. On the horticulture and agronomy side, it is indeed a blooming affair, ripe with opportunities at every turn of the way. 

The number of fresh produce that is harvested in this area has been encouraging, and so has the response of the customers to their farmers’ offerings. It is simple economics at play; the farmer fills the gap by supplying much-needed products in response to the high demand for them from the residents.

Stories of young city dwellers returning to the cities with bags of mahangu from the very fields of their farming parents are not unusual. Such stories give hope to the country’s quest to encourage the production of its food. 

I mean, if those in the NCA can feed themselves and sell their livestock among themselves, what is stopping the whole country from doing so? Perhaps, we could all take a leaf out of the NCA farmers’ book and emulate what has been working for them. We should do so by asking ourselves if we, as a country, will be able to survive if our borders are sealed off for imports?

Granted, this has exactly been the situation for farmers north of the VCF. They have been barricaded in the dry and often flood-prone oshanas, rocky mountains and sandy areas of the NCA from Kunene to Zambezi. 

While part of Namibia, they, unfortunately, had to deal with being an economy on its own by way of the current restrictions of exports from the area. “Otjina otjiwa tjihorerwa, katjitirwa eruru”, says the Ovaherero, which loosely translated, means “A good thing should be replicated, and not shunned”. 

Let us study the model of the NCA farmers and put it to use. Thank you, dear NCA farmers for showing us and the world that “Where there is a will, there is a way…” If we all had the vigour, determination and charisma towards farming that these farmers have, we would surely all be winning!



2022-04-12  Charles Tjatindi

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