Allow me to share my elongated views on agricultural practice in my country Namibia. I have never studied agriculture in my academic life, let alone as a subject at primary school, but I was born by peasant farmers. This has catapulted me to grow into an avid farmer that I am today. I have attempted poultry, cattle, goat, donkey, pigs and vegetable plus fruit farming thus far. Thus, I classify myself as an avid farmer, or want to be. Off all these farming I have tried thus far, each comes with its challenges and hurdles. The opinions in this piece, are not so expert based, but based on decade long practice in the field of agriculture.
I have always overcome my challenges with Will Rodgers quote that says; “the farmer has to be an optimist or he wouldn’t be a farmer.” To this very day, out of all changes I have picked one that have lasted on my mind ever, water. The arid dry condition of my beloved country has made me shiver to the bone, and the water scarcity especially in Oshikoto is just way too much. Namibia has no reliable water source, that one can brag about. Oshikoto is the worst when it comes to water scarcity. The underground option available turned out to be salty, unlike Ohangwena with underground aquifers, and Omusati with Olushandja Dam water from the mighty Kunene River. Let alone Oshana which get seasonal flooding. Zambezi and the two Kavango regions are blessed with rivers, of all northern regions. Here in the north, we depend on agriculture for all. Feeding families, or making a living or so we have come to believe. We have young agri-preneurs, graduates of agricultural colleges like Ogongo without employment. People who went to varsity to acquire the skills have to sit at home unable to practice their knowledge. This has me thinking, thus I have the following proposal to share. European countries and the Americas had slaves to work for them for free, thus they have developed their countries economically and infrastructurally. They had these slaves free, unlike us. I am not advocating for free labourers, but free water, or subsidised water.
It could work as follow, option 1, government give free water quota allocation for certain amount of cubic metres, unpaid, until the farmer has reached full production then they can start paying for usage onward, once they made a sale. No need to repay the start up quota, provided that the farmer should continue farming and paying for own water usage. Option 2, every constituency shall identify land, with good catchment where earth dams can be dug to collect rainwater. Then allocate small plots surrounding these earth dams, where farmers can grow own crops, and sell. This could help boost and encourage farming, let alone give them start up water which is a hurdle. Other benefit will include employment creations. Water will be available for livestock for a longer period until the next rain season. Many farmers have lost their livestock in the past as they have to travel for longer distance to reach water points far away from grazing fields. This made them grow weary and weak, thus unable to resist hunger in a scorching sun searching for water. The earth dams and vegetable plots will also contribute to food security, and health living. Thereby reducing our dependency on other countries for fruit, veggies and other many agricultural produces that we import. It is high time Namibia stands on own feet and feed its nation. We should also know that pumping money calling them subsidy in these projects in the name of tender, will only rob us money. The government had in the past used its employees for these projects without tendering, and this have worked. We have the ministry of works, let them use their tractors to dig earth dams.