New Era (Windhoek)

Namibia: Heavy Rains Destroy Vungu-Vungu Crops

Vungu-Vungu — Heavy downpours on Saturday destroyed crop fields of 10 small-scale farmers of the Vungu-Vungu irrigation project in the Kavango Region.

The heavy rains that measured about 80mm destroyed nearly 60 hectares of maize, wheat and vegetable fields. A part of the fields lay submerged under water, which is expected to cause major damage to seedlings.

Farmers are now anxious and worried about whether they would be able to harvest sufficient crops to make the monthly loan repayment to the state agricultural bank, Agribank.

Agribank's area manager Dexter Maiba visited the damaged crop fields yesterday morning to assess the situation. He declined to comment, saying he first has to report to the head office in Windhoek.

Each of the 10 farmers have a five-year agreement with Agribank for individual loans of about N$320 000 each. The loans are repayable after two harvesting seasons.

"The management does not want us to talk to the media, please do not write my name," said one anxious small-scale farmer, while inspecting the damage.

What is causing even more anxiety are the weather forecasts by the Namibia Meteorological Services (NMS). The outlook for the next seven days indicates that the northern parts of the country can expect more heavy rains.

The 60 hectares Vungu-Vungu irrigation project is situated some 15 kilometres outside Rundu and each of the 10 small-scale farmers grows crops on 6-hectare portions of the total acreage.

Other than the destruction to crops, no other damage was suffered at the project. At this stage, the farmers are unable to provide estimates of the damage caused by the weekend's deluge.

The farmers are also concerned with the marketing of their produce. "When we started, we were told that it will be required of us to plant and give our produce to the government who will in turn market and sell it.

"But as you can see now, we are forced to go to town and sell the produce to get money because we have a loan that we must repay," said one of the farmers who preferred to remain anonymous.

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