Kavango Region farmers stranded

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by Mutonga Matali

MUSESE – Erratic rains being experienced in the Kavango Region have left several small-scale crop farmers stranded.

The farmers are, as a result, hesitant to cultivate their communal plots.

Meteorological predictions for the second and main quarter of the 2011-12 rainy season, from January to March, forecast normal to above-normal rainfall across the country.

However, it has not rained sufficiently in the Kavango Region, especially in the rural areas, where communal crop farming is a regular feature and has proved to be the main source of livelihood for many, including the unemployed.

Most small-scale farmers have been compelled to abandon their yearly cultivating routine in the wake of the worrisome climatic change and as a result, large portions of their fields remain uncultivated.

The farmers have expressed concern that this might be one of the “worst years that their families will suffer from hunger”.

“It is impossible to plough when the soil is dry like this and the seeds will not grow even if we happen to force issues,” 33-year-old Frans Muronga of Musese Village, situated approximately 80 kilometers west of Rundu, told New Era yesterday.

Muronga explained that he normally cultivates about 10 hectares of land each year with maize and mahangu but the fluctuating rain pattern has restricted his work to only six hectares this year. His field is not “pleasing at all,” he said.

The soft-spoken farmer said he might struggle to pay school fees for his four children: “I generate income from the harvests that I make every year and that helps my family in many ways, including paying school fees.”

“I do not think we will sell anything this year and that will mean I will not be able to pay school fund for the children.”

Residents of Musese Village have not received “sufficient” rainfall for close to two weeks and their crops have now wilted as a direct consequence of the uncompromising heat.

Another farmer in the same area, 52-year-old Petrus Haingura, hopes that the government will intervene if the situation does not change for the better.

“Government must consider putting us on drought relief programme if it goes on like this,” said the unemployed Haingura, a father of seven children. Just like Muronga, Haingura has also shelved his tools and will not plough until the rains come.