13 Apr 2016 15:20pm
By Paulus Shiku
SWAKOPMUND, 13 APR (NAMPA) - Leaders of the Zeraeua Traditional Authority in the Omatjete area of the Erongo Region are requesting for special treatment to cope with the ongoing drought in the Daures Constituency.
As such, they want President Hage Geingob to declare a state of emergency on their condition specifically.
Fabianus Hivirikee Uaseuapuani, the chairperson of the Zeraeua Traditional Authority, told Nampa on Tuesday the drought situation in the constituency has worsened because there is still no rain.
This situation should be given special attention as it is worse [than others]. I do not think we should be treated as part of the national drought mitigation procedures as we are in a serious drought, he explained.
Uaseuapuani said he personally lost 15 heads of cattle this year and knows some farmers in the Ozondati area north of Omatjete who lost about 20 cattle due to drought.
There are about 6 000 communal farmers affected by the drought in the constituency.
He noted that their request is for Government to supply fodder for their animals, because many continue to die due to lack of pastures.
The drought has persisted for three consecutive years and we are asking for drastic measures, which are special to us, to be implemented or we will lose all our animals that are our lives (livelihood), Uaseuapuani said.
The leaders proposed that they must be given machines to make fodder for their animals from tree leaves, barks, branches and pods among others.
If the government buy resettlement farms, they must consider giving some of those land to us so we can graze our animals there until we receive good rain, he said.
Uaseuapuani also suggested that an emergency green scheme should be established in the constituency to grow lucerne and grass for animal feed.
He said farmers have been buying lucerne and grass to save their animals, but it is expensive.
The traditional leader said farmers also used to harvest grass on municipal land in Omatjete and also graze animals there, but there is no more grazing available.
We are determined to save our animals if assisted; we cannot afford to lose them all.
Uaseuapuani noted that although Government already encouraged farmers to sell their livestock at auctions, this is does not help much as the animals are thin.
Even if we sell, there is no profit. An animal which cost about N.dollars 5 000 to buy or raise will only be sold for even N.dollars 2 000; that is a big loss.
Communal farmers usually sell their cows at prices between N.dollars 3 000 to 6 000, depending on the breed and health.
He acknowledged that they benefited from all measures put in place by Government to help farmers cope with the drought.
Erongo Regional Governor Cleophas Mutjavikua, who was approached by the traditional authority to inform the Geingob about the drought condition, said Government bought farms that were added to communal land in Otjimbingwe, Okombahe and Omatjete over the past two years.
We added farms to communal areas to increase grazing and we are working on adding more farms to communal land. I think in Erongo, we did more than we can to assist the farmers in terms of drought, Mutjavikua said.
Minister of Agriculture, Water and Forestry John Mutorwa told the National Assembly (NA) recently that his ministry paid more than N.dollars 45 million to farmers as part of its drought marketing incentives scheme during the 2015/2016 financial year.
This includes the leasing grazing incentive scheme and the transportation of livestock incentive scheme to assist both communal and commercial farmers, whose livestock were affected by drought.
Farmers were assisted to market their animals through the scheme, lease grazing areas and transport their livestock to better grazing areas identified by the farmers.
Last year, the ministry also introduced a drought relief subsidy through which farmers qualify for N.dollars 400 per large livestock (cattle) to a maximum of 200 animals and N.dollars 80 per small livestock (goat and sheep) to a maximum of 1 000 animals, or a combination of both.
It is also our conviction that the ministry together with the Office of the Prime Minister and other stakeholders will have to continue to implement the existing drought mitigating measures as well as develop new measures to deal with the consequences and effects of the drought in some specific areas of our country, Mutorwa said.