!NONES AND UITVAL – Despite being subjected to freezing temperatures, veld fires and a locust outbreak, commercial and communal farmers in the south are still keeping their heads above water.
Rachel #Eigus, a communal farmer outside Berseba, said she recently started farming, and remains hopeful and positive about making a success of it. “My husband and I are building small houses for people here. But due to financial constraints, customers opted to pay him half the money and the rest in small livestock, hence our decision to enter the farming business,” she explained.
#Eigus said although they experienced freezing temperatures, they were fortunate not to lose any of the small herd of goats they started farming with. “I decided to keep them with us in our corrugated zinc shack at night to prevent them from dying of the cold,’’ she added. The farmer said they were luckily not subjected to veld fires as was the case with other farmers in the country, and that grazing is generally in a good condition in their area. “The only problem we are facing is that of clean, potable water,’’ she noted.
#Eigus added that although they draw water from wells from the nearby Fish River, it is not fit for human consumption. “We have to collect water from nearby Berseba, and although it is my wish to start a backyard garden for our own consumption, I am faced with the challenge of accessing potable water,’’ she said.
Meanwhile, Hansie Esthuize, owner of farm Uitval in the Karasburg West constituency, said being in the farming business for ages has shown that there are good and bad times, which a farmer must be able to endure.
“I recently lost about 1 800 hectares of grazing and some old sheep eves after the children of my labourers played with matches on my farm, but that won’t bring me down,’’ he added. “In these areas of the Klein Karasberge, we are experiencing winter temperatures between zero degrees Celsius. But as a back-up plan, I built steel sheds to protect my small livestock from dying due to the cold,’’ he observed.
Esthuize, who is also the chairperson of the Klein Karasberge Farmers Association, said the locust outbreak, which saw farmers losing thousands of hectares of grazing, was now under control. “The ground moisture is now at temperatures not conducive for the further breeding of locusts, but as a consolation, the dead locusts now serve as ideal food for small livestock,” he noted. Esthuize further urged all farmers in Namibia to remain optimistic and always strive to see “the silver lining around the dark clouds in life”.