Drought continues tormenting farmers

from New Era
Published on 02 May 2013 View Original

02 May 2013 - Story by Francis Xoagub

BERSEBA – With memories of last year’s drought still fresh in their memories, communal farmers in the south are afraid the current devastating dry spell will continue until December.

One of the worst droughts in years continues to worsen according to the latest Namibia Crop Prospect and Food Security Situation Report. “At this point in time I’m very concerned about it,” said Daniel Gariseb (63) of farm //Khu !Hoes in the Berseba district during an interview with New Era this week.

“It can get wet fast, but our drought pattern from last year has not changed. We haven’t had much moisture this year and we are already in the winter,” lamented Gariseb, who also observed: “We're starting to see farmers sell their cattle because they don't have grass to feed them.”

He lost two goats out of a herd of 72 due to the drought and was also compelled to sell 30 of his goats at give-away prices to commercial farmers who seem to exploit the situation. “There are areas of our farm and ditches I’ve never seen this dry,” he said.

“I’d sure like to see some moisture, especially in the subsoil and we need a lot of rain and less heat going through July and August,” said the small-stock farmer. The farmer, who herds his own goats in the bone-dry planes of Berseba Constituency, acknowledges that among farmers close to him “only a small percentage… came out okay,” because of having their crops adequately insured and their healthy financial status.

“We can only hope that the weather is a lot friendlier in 2014,” Gariseb mused. Communal farmers also expressed concern about the slow pace at which drought emergency aid is distributed, especially by the local authorities. “We’ve already lost some of our livestock,” he said.

One farmer said the erratic rains cost him more than N$10 000 a month in animal fodder. Another farmer who only owns three horses and six donkeys, Salomo Phillip (62) of Kameel River, a small settlement 40km north of Berseba said his family is also adversely affected by the drought and called on government to assist the farmers.

Phillip who supports his family of seven relies on his monthly pension to put food on the table. “We hope that this goat project can also be extended to our village,” he said wistfully, referring to the goat project under the Namibian-German Special Initiative Programme (NGSIP).