WINDHOEK – The Namibia Farmers Drought Aid Programme of Steinhausen/Stampriet rancher Henriette le Grange has added its voice to the Namibia Agricultural Union (NAU) in cooperation with the Namibia Emerging Commercial Farmers Union (NECFU) and requested agriculture minister Alpheus !Naruseb to declare the 2019 drought a national disaster.
Le Grange’s written request came last Thursday after her programme consisting of volunteers raised more than N$1 million which enabled them to assist 293 southern farmers with 12 480 bales of lucerne, 481 bags of feed from areas such as Leonardville, Mariental, Keetmanshoop, Tses, Warmbad, Aroab, Ariamsvlei, Bethanië, Karasburg and Maltah?he where the drought has reached disastrous dimensions with animals dying daily.
The latest request comes in the wake of independent reports which show that the rangeland condition on 92 percent of all land in Namibia is below normal, while a staggering 64 percent of the entire country has a vegetation cover of less than 20 percent of normal.
It is further estimated that the water currently available in the Hardap dam will not be able to sustain irrigation at current levels until the end of 2019. Pressure on current livestock marketing channels is immense with plummeting auction prices due to an oversupply of especially lean animals. A large part of dry-land crops in the northern communities have already been destroyed, and rain figures for March were well below normal while the Easter weekend’s rains did not bring relief either.
All requests are now receiving the attention of the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM). Le Grange says the feed stockpile in Namibia has been exhausted and the cost of lucerne has skyrocketed. “Due to the foot-and-mouth outbreak in South Africa, it is difficult and cumbersome to import lucerne from our neighbor. But should Namibia, or parts of it, be declared a disaster drought area, we will be able to source fodder from some drought aid programmes in SA such as Gift of the Givers, and others,” she explained.
The destruction of grazing in the south has devastating effects on communal, commercial and emerging farmers. The Dare to Care Disaster Fund of the NAU and the NECFU will surpass the N$5.3 million mark tomorrow when N$200 000 will be handed over from the Henties Bay Lions Club. Some of the communal farmers told this reporter that communal pastoralists often cannot do anything in response to drought and it is often a most rational response given the constraints they face. They indicated that unallocated grazing is simply not available, and moving livestock elsewhere is not possible.