Khomas resettled farmers urged to diversity activities

22 Nov 2015 12:00pm
WINDHOEK, 22 NOV (NAMPA) – The Ministry of Land Reform collected less than N.dollars 14 000 from resettled farmers in the Khomas Region through lease agreements during the 2015/2016 financial year.
The ministry expected to collect about N.dollars 40 000 from leases during the year under review, but however only managed to obtain N.dollars 13 628.88 from the farmers.
This was revealed by the Deputy Minister of Land Reform, Bernadus Swartbooi during the Khomas Resettled Farmers' Day symposium at the Krumhuk Agricultural Training Centre on Saturday.
Swartbooi noted that Government through his ministry has availed eight resettlement farms since 2001 to 34 families in Khomas Region, with a loan of N.dollars 200 000 per farmer.
“This amount has recently increased from N.dollars 200 000 to N.dollars 500 000 per farmer. More than 350 loans were disbursed to resettlement farmers countrywide,” he said.
The resettlement programme under the Ministry of Land Reform aims to improve the welfare of resettled farmers through increased productivity, and post-settlement support for resettled farmers is a priority.
Swartbooi said the ministry provides post-settlement support in the form of rehabilitation of water infrastructure; post-settlement financing support programme; a farmers’ support programme; and fencing of resettlement farms.
He stressed that the beneficiaries are expected to pay rent annually. Some farmers are however unable to pay rental fees because of inadequate cash flow; insufficient water/lack of water infrastructure and because they are unemployed or pensioners.
Swartbooi applauded some of the farmers for investing 50 per cent of their loans on expenses such as fencing farms, constructing their houses, drilling boreholes, and buying solar panels and livestock.
He urged resettled farmers to involve family members in farming activities so that they are able to take over after the registered resettled farmer passes on.
Swartbooi said the ministry will not take it lightly if family members fight over a farm after the death of the farmer, as the ministry could take back the farm and allocate it to another applicant.
The deputy minister urged those who are unable to maintain and be productive on resettlement farms to return them to the State.
He added that the government will soon demand that farmers venture into crop production that will assist with providing food in drought situations.
Farmers currently resettled in Khomas are mostly involved in animal husbandry. Only one farmer focuses on crop production.
“We need to reduce the age of the resettled farmers (beneficiaries) and focus on young farmers who are strong and have more energy,” Swartbooi said.
Currently, there is no maximum age limit for Namibians to apply for resettlement farms, but applicants should be older than 18 years.
The resettlement farms in the Khomas Region include Farm Anias Nord, Farm Anias Sud, Farm Corsica, Farm Nuatabis, Farm Ongombo West, Farm Anstatt, Farm Welgemoed and Farm Klausgrand.
More than 20 farmers attended the one-day symposium.