Farmer unions set up emergency action plan for drought

06 Feb 2019 18:00pm
REHOBOTH, 06 FEB (NAMPA) – The Namibia Agricultural Union (NAU) and the Namibia Emerging Commercial Farmers’ Union (NECFU) compiled an emergency action plan to reduce the impact of drought, which they termed a national crisis.
A statement availed to Nampa on Tuesday by the NAU explained that part of the plan is an urgent meeting with the Minister of Agriculture, Water and Forestry (MAWF), on the severity of the current drought, and to provide a proposal that would mitigate its impact to all Namibians.
A request for that meeting has already been sent out, it said.
“It is the ultimate goal to have all three farmers’ unions - NAU, NECFU and the Namibia National Farmers Union, represented at the meeting, and thus provide one unified proposal to the minister,” it stated.
It added that the action plan outlines the emergency selling of livestock, whereby farmers are not restricted to remove their livestock in a timely manner from the land, in order to reduce the impact on rangelands.
The MAWF and the Meat Board will be urgently requested to remove all policies restricting the export of livestock in order to minimise financial and livestock loss, the statement read.
It went on to say that in discussions with Meatco, it was requested that Meatco provide farmers with a three-month price strategy that would help them make informed decisions on whether to fatten their animals or not, based on the prices availed to them.
It is further suggested that abattoirs come to the aid of farmers by fixing the price for the next three to four months as this will stimulate and build trust along the value chain, while ensuring the sustainability of the industry in the future.
Financial institutions will be requested to implement assistance measures to help their clients survive the cash flow challenges resulting from the drought.
Such measures could include the postponement of payments of loans for this year, and subsidised loans to survive the effect of the drought, it suggested.
Owner of Farm Fanara in the ||Kharas Region, Gabriel Biwa who farms with sheep and cattle, on Tuesday said the drought in that area is very extensive and has surpassed the critical stage, with the duration of this drought.
He added that farmers are on their knees with low income due to the Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) outbreak in neighbouring South Africa (SA), the lack of support from Government, high prices on lick, feed and fodder as well as restrictions on export.
“The danger of a one channel marketing system and dependence on SA market has become a reality with the FMD outbreak there. Farmers scaled down on quantity and are left with the core of core stock,” Biwa expressed.
He said all these factors are contributing to the financial position of farmers, with a gloomy forecast on the rainy season.
“Many farmers will not survive this season if assistance and support from those stakeholders benefitting from farm products or produce do not step up to help farmers,” he said.