Agricultural yields deficit for Namibian farmers

African women farmers

For 49 years old farmer Iyambo Mateus from a far-flung village in Namibia’s Oshana Region, it never rains but pours.
FarmersFirstly, in 2013, he lost most of his crops to armyworms. This was a painful experience and huge setback for Mateus who relied on selling surplus from his subsistence harvest to feed his household.
Fate dealt him another blow in 2014. Just when he thought he had enough to stabilise his food situation, a swarm of birds invaded his field and destroyed much of his crops, throwing him back into desperation.
In 2015, his hopes for better yields have been shattered by drought and dry spell.
“After getting my own plot to farm on when I married in 2013, I was excited about the prospect of a bumper harvest. But over the last three years, prospects for yields have declined. It has negatively affected me, especially economically,” he said. “I have a family to feed. I need to generate an income from my field. I need to sustain my livelihood. It is difficult. I cannot seem to afford anything anymore,” he told Xinhua late afternoon on Tuesday.
Mateus is one of the thousands of villagers whose household food security is tightening. Communal farmers’ lives are threatened, as Namibia faces a drought this year.
As a result, livelihoods are being inhibited by drought, with socio-economic prosperity looking bleak, said the rural dweller.
And many Namibian farmers relate to Mateus’ story.
In Namibia’s Oshikoto Region, Johannes Lyakwata is a worried farmer. The portrayal of his farm and its surrounding tells the tale of many farmers in northern Namibia: cattle are lean, fields are dry, depleted grazing conditions and crops have withered. “I have already lost seven cattle in five months. We will have no harvest, no cattle to sell and water is limited,” said Lyakwata. “Our livelihood has been threatened. Not only we won’t have food, but our social and economic standing has destabilized. I won’t have an income and subsequently may not afford basic service. We call on government to assist us rebuild our livelihoods,” a distraught Lyakwata shared with Xinhua.
To meet the farmers half-way, government has vowed to come to their aid.
Permanent Secretary at the Office of the Prime Minister Nangula Mbako recently announced that government has allocated funds towards medium and long-term strategies.
The state has also put aside 300 million Namibian dollars (25 million U.S. dollars) for drought mitigation purposes after Cabinet had authorized the implementation of an interim drought relief programme. A portion of 90 million Namibian dollars (7.5 million U.S. dollars) would be allocated licks, health packages and animal fodder. In addition, boreholes drilled during the 2013/ 14 would be equipped.
Information from the Office of the Prime Minister showed that close to 418,000 people affected by drought would receive assistance that includes maize meal.
It is not a first for the Namibian government to assist citizens affected by the natural disasters and unpredictable climate patterns that severely affect agricultural production.
Historically, in 2013, the then Namibian President Hifikepunye Pohamba this month declared an emergency situation in the country as a result of drought.
The President’s declaration comes after the Harvest Prospect for 2012/2013 conducted by the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry revealed that “most households have depleted their food stocks in September the previous year and mainly dependent on market for food access.”
In the meantime, Mateus hoped that government’s assistance would be of help. “We would like government to assist us adapt to unpredictable climate patterns. But overall we look forward to the assistance so that we can re-build our livelihood with dignity,” Mateus concluded. Enditem

Source: Xinhua

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