By: Kelvin Chiringa
Farmers severely hit by the ongoing drought which they say is now a national disaster have set an ambitious target to collect funds to the tune of N$10 million by the end March this year in order to help mitigate the crisis.
They have taken the lead ahead of an anticipated government relief fund, but have also joined hands with the ministry of agriculture.
Minister Alpheus Naruseb is the custodian of the initiative dubbed the Dare to Care Fund.
Namibia Agricultural Union’s executive manager Roelie Venter said part of the strategy would be to subsidize feed to make it more affordable for farmers.
He said this time there will not be donations as they wanted to make the process a fair one.
“The agricultural retail outlets (Kaap, Agri and Agra) with their retail branches country-wide would be used to reach farmers, and these subsidized prices will be available in all branches,” the farmers have said.
The Dare to Care fund’s full scope financial audit will be carried out by appointed SGA Chartered accountants to ensure accountability of all monies received and the distribution thereof.
In the meantime, no significant amount of rains have been received and Naruseb said government is awaiting the gathering of empirical data which should inform whether or not to officially declare the drought a national catastrophe.
To survive this drought, farmers will need to fatten their animals for the market and remove them from rangelands, while trying to save their core-breeding herd for when the rains come again, this publication has been informed.
But it’s a humongous task.
Said the farmers, “To fatten only 5% of Namibia’s national herd over a period of two months, in order to remove them off the land, would cost about N$170 million, which emphasizes the enormity of the crisis.”
Naruseb said Namibia will have to overcome preferences when it comes to the survival of the entire country which is directly linked to agriculture.
“We will walk this path together,” he said at a press conference held this week in the capital.