16 Jul 2013 04:20
WINDHOEK, 16 JUL (NAMPA) - Government is not fulfilling its promise to assist farmers during the current drought situation, the Namibia National Farmers? Union (NNFU) says.
NNFU Executive Director Oloff Munjanu told Nampa on Monday that farmers are not happy with government?s drought relief scheme, which is allegedly not being rolled-out as planned.
?The impact of the drought is now felt severely in terms of the number of animals dying, and the number of malnutrition cases reported in the regions, including the deaths of people. The scheme is not rolled-out as envisaged,? he charged.
In June this year, the Minister of Agriculture, Water and Forestry John Mutorwa announced at a media conference that Government would spend about N.dollars 50 million to assist farmers during the drought.
Under the drought-relief scheme, the Ministry of Agriculture has made provision for a marketing incentive scheme, a grazing subsidy when farmers lease land, as well as a transport subsidy to and from grazing areas for farmers during the drought.
However, Munjanu raised the concern that government?s promise is not reaching destitute farmers, as application forms are not freely available and some agricultural extension officers, especially in the Northern Communal Areas (NCAs) are not familiar with the scheme, and therefore cannot provide the correct information to farmers.
Farmers in the NCA have also not received any payments so far.
The NNFU Executive Director said one confusing aspect to farmers is the leasing of grazing land in communal areas, which are shared by communities.
Munjanu said in the NCA, farmers also will not benefit from the grazing subsidy as they cannot move their animals south of the Veterinary Cordon Fence (VCF) in search of grazing.
Furthermore, not all farmers have bank accounts, which is a prerequisite for refunds to farmers.
As part of the scheme, certified copies of identity documents or passports or drivers? licences; ear tag numbers or a Farm-Assured Namibian Meat Scheme card; relevant documents as per marketing type (abattoir or auction); banking details where possible, or arrangements with a scheme administrator for alternative payment options, should be attached to applications.
Munjanu further alleged that poorer farmers will not benefit from the scheme as farmers have to pay first, and claim the subsidies later.
?Livestock prices are very low, and you have to pay three times the current price to restock the same animal after drought. Thus, the scheme is not animal restocking-friendly after the drought,? he added.
Mutorwa said the scheme is valid as from 01 March 2013 until the situation on the ground has officially been declared as being back to normal, or until the budget is exhausted.