Mahangu subsistence farmers in many parts of northern Namibia are anticipating a poor harvest as their crops continue to wilt and dry following a poor rainy season.
The lack of grazing has seen some farmers taking grass from their thatched huts to feed their cattle and goats.
Seventy-four-year-old Natalia Shiikwafeni Hamukoto is one of the many subsistence farmers whose crops have wilted. She is a resident of Oshomukwiyu-Ohalushu in Endola Constituency in Ohangwena Region .
Although she and her family started ploughing in early December after the first few rains fell, their dream of a good harvest was shattered when their crops started dying.
Hamukoto ploughed four hectares of which two dried up while the seedlings in the other two even failed to sprout.
She said they have not received any rain since January and the situation has become unbearable for both humans and livestock.
“At the end of last year when it rained I thought I would plough early so that come this year I will have a better harvest. Unfortunately that was all in vain,” said Hamukoto.
No one was seen cultivating crops in the area as many had given up and are instead looking for other means to feed their families.
Hamukoto said she does not know how she will survive another year of drought because she has no surplus grain from last year and depends entirely on her monthly pension to feed her family of 16.
“The silo is empty. Last year we only harvested 40kg of mahangu grain which was not even enough to sustain us for a month,” said Hamukoto.
Since then Hamukoto and her family have depended on maize she buys with her monthly pension of N$1 000. No one is formally employed in her entire household.
She said that although she has been receiving drought relief food it is never enough to sustain her big family. “One can say maybe the animals are lucky because now we will just let them graze in the field because even if it rains the plants will not revive,” said Hamukoto.
She said things have gotten so out of hand that she resorts to getting grass from the roofs of her huts to feed her livestock.