12 Dec 2014 15:50pm
KEETMANSHOOP, 11 DEC (NAMPA) - Communal farmers from 11 farms in the Swartrand area near Berseba have voiced their frustration over perpetual water problems experienced here.
The chairperson of the water committee of the cluster of farms, Josephina Kapuka of Farm Tweelingpomp told Nampa on Friday that the farmers have had enough, and are requesting that government finds a permanent solution.
The Swartrand range is a dry area, and the farmers get water from water pumps installed by local government through the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry (MAWF).
The farms are within a 15-80km radius outside Berseba towards the west in the //Karas region.
Each farm is equipped with one pump.
The farmers are particularly concerned about the water issue now in light of the current lack of rain in most parts of the south.
We dont get much rain in the Swartrand area, and on top of the problems we experience with the pumps, the tanks we are provided with are also too few, Kapuka said.
She said Government seems uninterested in the plight of the farmers.
We try our best on these communal farms. We dont get any allowances, while we constantly struggle with drought.
We have the best meat in the country in our opinion, but we are on our own, she lamented.
Farmer Willem Motinga of Farm Soetvlei said on his part that the pumps break regularly, and that there is always a long delay before repairs are effected.
He claimed that the repairs done by the MAWF are often below standard, resulting in repeated pump breakdowns.
The farmers say they have decided to speak out to put an end to the situation they have experienced for years.
This is our livelihood. We are trying to work for ourselves, but we cannot do this without water, said Johannes Motinga of Farm !Ukhos and councillor of the Swartrand Traditional Authority.
The farmers raise sheep, goats, karakul and cows.
They keep domestic animals such as donkeys, dogs and cats as well and try to maintain gardens all dependent on water.
Motinga said the MAWF already admitted that the pumps were faulty and promised to build boreholes last year already, but this was yet to materialise.
The regional head for Rural Water Supply in the MAWFs Keetmanshoop office, Bertie Bezuidenhoudt is currently on leave, but a senior technician explained to this agency that the Swartrand farms were not the only farms requiring assistance.
The official - who is not authorised to talk to the media - said complainants usually fail to consider logistical, technical or operational matters, and that all these costs are carried by the government only.
He said in certain cases, farmers were also guilty of mishandling the equipment and causing damage to the pumps.
He, however, indicated that a meeting was planned with the Swartrand farmers for the next few weeks to discuss issues arising on both sides.
The 11 farms have around 35 000 animals in total, and farmers say they often lose animals due to diseases caused by the water shortage.
The farmers sell their animals live on auction to commercial farmers, who sell it further inside and outside the country.