417 944 receive drought food

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The Permanent Secretary in the Office of the Prime Minister, Nangula Mbako, last Friday announced that the government is busy distributing food to drought-hit households.

She said the distribution of drought relief food is taking place through the Disaster Risk Management Unit in the Office of the Prime Minister.

Mbako said these mitigation measures are being carried out to alleviate drought in the country after Cabinet authorised the implementation of an interim drought relief programme.

She said the measures are being implemented while the government awaits the outcome of the post-harvest crop and vulnerability assessment report planned for May to June this year.

“The assessment will determine the impact of drought on food production, livelihood and the number of people affected. The Office of the Prime Minister is currently distributing food aid donated by the Federal Republic of Nigeria consisting of 300 metric tons of rice divided into 25 kg bags, 700 metric tons of maize grain and three metric tons of fish powder,” she said.

Acting Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry, Andrew Nehemiah, in his response to the situation on the ground told reporters the drought in Namibia is described as serious and has affected grazing in large parts of the country.

“The country’s northern regions have been hit by a severe shortage in crop production. The whole country looks bad. We had poor germination, wilted crops in the maize triangle and the situation looks terrible,” he said.

Mbako said the N$359 million approved for drought relief to the Office of the Prime Minister would be spent on maize grain, the milling of maize grain, and on logistics such as transport, and payment of drivers, labourers and warehouse operations.

Mbako said medium to long term measures taken include water provision and a livestock marketing incentive scheme.

“Around 50 boreholes will soon be drilled after the tender was recently awarded and activities will start this coming month,” she stated.

Also, pipeline extensions were approved by the Tender Board and the agriculture ministry is busy receiving quotations from contractors for evaluation and award.

“Water tanker services are currently being implemented in Omaheke Region and can be extended to other regions for emergency water supply,” she said.

She described the situation as very serious but assured the affected people in the commercial and communal farming areas that government would work very hard to mitigate the impact of the drought.

Furthermore, the government announced livestock incentive scheme rates from N$80 per small stock and N$400 per large stock sold and farmers are advised to keep a record of the number of animals sold.

This follows after the government urged farmers to sell animals while they are still in good condition. Further, farmers who transport their livestock to emergency grazing areas qualify for a subsidy of N$0.50 per freight transport to a maximum of N$16 per kilometre for a maximum of 500 kilometres.

People that lease their grazing land will receive N$0.50 per head per month. Nehemiah said the agriculture ministry would in consultation with the farmers and other stakeholders work out strategies to assist farmers to restock after destocking as a result of the current drought.

Permanent Secretary Mbako said seed would be given to communal farmers for the next season while farmers qualify for a fodder subsidy worth N$60 per large stock unit per month and N$10 per small stock unit per month.