• August 11th, 2020

Private drought aid programme secures N$2.6 m…reaches out to 530 farmers

Deon Schlechter

OTJINENE - Stalwart Southern rancher Henriette le Grange’s Namibia Farmers Drought Aid Programme reached a milestone last week Friday when the 530th farmer in the south received his free lucerne and the fund reached the N$2.6 million mark.

An ecstatic Le Grange told Farmers Forum that the programme has now delivered 6 969 bags of fodder which required more than eight link trucks to gather and transport to areas such as Leonardville, Mariental, Keetmanshoop, Tses, Warmbad, Aroab, Ariamsvlei, Bethanië, Karasburg, Rehoboth, Aus, Gochas, Otjinene, Okandjau and Maltahὅhe where the drought has reached disastrous dimensions with animals dying daily.

“We have brought some relief to these debilitated farmers with more than 6000 bags of fodder and maize and almost 26 000 bales of lucerne and hay. Funds remain an issue in the current economic crisis but I am astounded by how farmers from all over the country have reacted to our plight and assisted us in various ways to make our donations possible. Nobody will understand the desperation of these people until they have witnessed first-hand the effects of the prolonged and destructive drought,” she commented during the handover at Otjinene.

The South is currently experiencing one of the worst droughts in recent memory and thousands of livestock have died since the beginning of February. Many farmers have reached rock bottom after battling with five consecutive years of drought, escalating forage prices and a sheep export scheme that has failed most. 

The situation is causing many to question their future on the land. The private package from Le Grange and friends has been welcomed but in the words of a local farmer, “It barely touches the sides”.  Most of these farmers are raising children while dealing with the stress of years without substantial rain and bills from trucking in food for their sheep and cattle have ruined well over 200 farmers.  

“There’s just no income. Whatever the farm is making is going back into feed for whatever they have left,” she says. “We have accumulated funds to help 530 farmers but still need donations to reach out to as many as possible farmers,” she laments.

Some farmers reported that small stock ewes are abandoning their lambs because the dry veld and lack of food have reduced their ability to produce enough milk. Some say they have up to 50 orphaned lambs that must be hand-fed. It is so desperate that some farmers feed their sheep a mixture of cotton seed and expired baby food to add nutrition for their struggling animals. 

Le Grange says these farmers are financially below their borderline now. Farmers destocked as much as possible early on, as it got worse and worse, but what they are left with now is pretty much unsaleable in the condition they’re in, she related.

 “Should the four horsemen of the Apocalypse pass this way, the hooves of their magnificent steeds will surely make no impression on the ground. The clatter of the hooves will echo around the desperate landscape like music calling the people to their final rest,” one farmer said. And one cannot sum it up better than that.

Donations can be made to the Namibia Farmers Drought Aid Programme. The banking details are Bank Windhoek, Maerua Mall, branch code 483 872 and the account number is 8004586880. Forms to apply for drought aid can be obtained from Le Grange via WhatsApp at 0811249670.

Staff Reporter
2019-07-16 10:23:04 | 1 years ago

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