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Agric ministry holds urgent meeting on drought

The Namibia Agricultural Union together with the ministry of agriculture have held an urgent meeting regarding the drought which some quarters now want to be declared a national disaster.

This comes right in the heels of this publication having recently reported that the drought had thickened out so much that farmers are now in panic mode.

Calls for a reduction in heads have been made while a critical shortage of hay means farmers may need to feed their stock on bush.

With regards the meeting, the NAU said feedback from John Mutorwa was received on Friday and the meeting was held on Monday, February 4 where the presidents of NECFU, Dr Nghifindaka, the NAU, Ryno van der Merwe and the executive manager of the NAU, Mr Roelie Venter attended.

Said NAU, “From the ministries side, the minister, deputy minister and the complete senior management attended the meeting which was appreciated by us and which indicates that the Minister of Agriculture acknowledges the critical situation.”

The two Unions also discussed their joined drought action plan with the minister and mentioned that it is of utmost importance that the export of livestock must not be restricted in order to enable producers to market their animals as soon as possible.

The farmers have also said price stability in the local market for slaughtering animals is critical for the next three months to enable producers to make decisions about finishing of cull animals.

Support measures by financial institutions have also been requested to ease the producer’s cash flow management.

The ministry of agriculture currently discussed the proposal where after a cabinet submission will be made.

Meanwhile the management of the Agronomic Producers’ Association (APA) met in Windhoek on 5 February 2019 and held the first discussions for the year on matters of interest to agronomic farmers.

The current drought situation was high on the agenda and representatives of the Namibian Agronomic Board (NAB) were urged to get the NAB’s Harambee Rain-fed Surplus Grain Production Program, which was developed by the NAB, implemented.

For those producers who will once again be confronted with a crop failure, there is great concern about their financial ability to incur input costs in the next season.

The above-mentioned program briefly involves a coupon system (covered by the state) for producers to purchase seed and fertilizer under certain circumstances.

This is the belief of the APA management that the above program will ensure food security for Namibia.

The APA also identified possible projects, such as alternative crops, cover crops, irrigation etc. as well as information days that are important to the industry and which fall within the strategic plan of the MAWF.

Kelvin Chiringa

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