Over 200 crop fields destroyed in Kavango West

09 Apr 2015 14:00pm
MUSESE, 09 APR (NAMPA) - Some 200 crop fields in the Kavango West Region’s Musese and Tondoro constituencies were destroyed by either elephants or hippopotami since February this year, leaving farmers completing the long applications for compensation by the relevant ministry.
The two constituencies’ Councillor, Joseph Sikongo, told this agency on Thursday that his office has since February this year been registering crop farmers who have lost crops as a result of wildlife interference.
He indicated that his office resorted to registering the affected crop farmers after it was realised that the Ministry of Environment and Tourism (MET) has apparentl been failing to attend to cases of Human-Wildlife Conflict (HWC) in his constituencies.
According to Sikongo, crop farmers in the two constituencies were the ones who suffered severe loss, while there were only five cases of crop fields that were registered as having been destroyed by the elephants in the Mankupi constituency.
The names of the affected victims have since been sent to the MET’s head office, so they can be compensated for the loss.
The councillor stated that the constituencies’ office however suspended the registration processes during this month for MET officials to first visit the affected areas.
In February, a herd of elephants that was roaming around different villages in the Musese constituency destroyed over 100 crop fields, but the number has since doubled.
The HWC in the said villages has gotten many residents angry and worried because the few crops that have grown due to poor rainfall are further destroyed by the wildlife, which left them with nothing ahead of the expected drought.
Since the wildlife havoc started, councillor Sikongo has on several occasions blamed MET officials for the lack of adequate manpower, saying that although cases of HWC were reported to them, the ministry is continuously failing to attend to such cases on time.
An official from the MET in the Kavango East Region, who spoke on anonymity, earlier refuted the councillor’s claim but admitted that the MET is challenged by a lack of manpower, just like other ministries.
The Musese, Tondoro and Mankupi councillor proposed that the line ministry consider employing Grade 10 and 12 failures as rangers to address HWC in the Kavango Regions.
Sikongo also called on Members of Parliament (MP) to consider amending the National Policy on Human-Wildlife Conflict Management of 2009, saying it does not serve the needs and aspirations of the people.
According to him, the policy is only applicable to communal and conservancy areas, and excludes small-scale commercial farming units. He questioned the rationale behind excluding them and stressed that farming is an economic activity that contributes to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
According to the HWC Policy, for damage to crops by wildlife, the ministry pays N.dollars 200 for one quarter of a hectare and N.dollars 800 per hectare for crop fields damaged by wildlife. Sikongo said these amounts are not enough and farmers are also discouraged by the lengthy process of applying for compensation, let alone the time spent waiting for the ministry to respond. According to him, this discourages development in small-scale agriculture.