Namibia - Northern crop farmers lose hope

20.01.2022 248 views

An air of uncertainty and desperation continues to loom large among northern communal farmers whose livelihoods generally depend on crop production.

The continued absence of rain in the greater parts of the northern regions has farmers further fearing loss of livestock due to drought.

The tilling and ploughing season in the northern regions usually begins in early November and runs through December. As it currently stands, however, villagers fear wastage should they begin to prepare their fields for ploughing.

Kuku Sylvia Haikali of Okelemba in the Ohangwena region says she has lost all hope of any harvest at all.

"I have never seen this before, never. January is about to end and no one has ploughed their fields. No rain throughout December up to now.

"By this time family who visited over the festive season would have helped out with tilling and ploughing the fields already, but as it is now, nothing has happened at all. I have lost all hope, it is already too late to plough. What are we going to eat?"

Simeon Shiwovanu, also from the Okelemba village, has spread manure across his mahangu field, a common practice among many mahangu farmers that helps fertilise the field in preparation for rain and ploughing activities.

"I am just doing this out of habit. I don't want to sit around idle but I really foresee no harvest this year. This situation is bad. I have been around the whole village and everyone is desperate.

"Talk of rain has become the focus of conversation everywhere you go. People are crying out for rain. What have we done for God to punish us this way? How will we eat?"

"We can't even think of renting tractors to till the fields because there is no urgency due to lack of rain," he adds.

Lukas Hedimbi, who earns his living by tilling mahangu fields across the Ohangwena region, says he has lost much business.

"This year I am out of business. I have two tractors sitting at home doing nothing, I have lost income because of this dry spell. Usually at a time like this, in a day I would have worked on about seven mahangu fields. No one has called me for my services, everyone is looking to the sky before they can do anything. It's really bad," he says.

The Namibia Meteorological Service (NMS) urges northern farmers not to lose hope.

"The prospects for rain are improving over Namibia especially over the regions where it is dry such as Kunene, Erongo, Oshana, Oshikoto and Omusati by Wednesday," confirmed NMS chief forecaster Odillo Kgobetsi.

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