6 February 2013

Namibia: Villagers Harvest Maize Prematurely

Windhoek — Villagers along the Zambezi River have started to harvest their crops prematurely fearing they could lose their entire crop as floods start to submerge their fields at Musanga, Lisikili and Kalimbeza.

Caprivi Regional Governor Lawrence Sampofu yesterday confirmed that villagers of Kalimbeza and Lisikili have started harvesting their maize crops prematurely. He, however, said no evacuation has taken place in those villages, despite the fact that the Zambezi River has been rising steadily since Sunday.

Initially, the Caprivi Regional Disaster Risk Management Committee (CRDRMC) announced it was preparing to evacuate villagers in the Kabbe Constituency following the rapid rise of the river, which has left thousands of residents including school-going children cut off from all the main roads.

"The Zambezi River was rising so fast by 30cm to 37cm for the past three weeks. But now since Sunday, it has been rising by 2cm only. There is no need to evacuate the villagers. It is only their crops that are under water, hence they have started harvesting before the crops are ripe," he said.

Yesterday, the water level in the Zambezi River stood at 4.94m. Floods have also started to threaten the Kalimbeza national rice project. "The flood water is moving towards the farm and in two weeks' time it is likely that we will be flooded," Patrick Kompeli, agricultural research technician in the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry explained.

At the moment, Kompeli said they have only harvested a mere 1.5ha out of the 40ha that were planted. "We normally expect the floods by March, but this year the floods have arrived earlier before we could harvest. It means the floods will destroy the plantations and we will have a poor harvest," he indicated.

Although many schools have been cut off from main roads and services in the area for the past three weeks, classes have not been interrupted as children cross the water to their respective schools using traditional dugout canoes.

However, according to the Governor since the floods started threatening some weeks ago, villagers have also been informed to relocate to higher grounds instead of waiting for disaster to strike. He also said there is some reluctance to move among some villagers.

He said most of the crops belonging to villagers are already under water and that could lead to poor harvests in some areas such as Lisikili, Schuckmannsburg and Namiyundu, which are located in the flood-belt in the Kabbe Constituency.

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