28 February 2013

Namibia: Drought Worries As Rain Stays Away

Photo: Chris Simpson/IRIN
Farmers are concerned about the survival of their livestock due to the poor rainfall (file photo).

WORRIES about a devastating drought are growing as the rains stay away, while weather forecasters do not predict much rain for at least the rest of the week.

The Namibia National Farmers Union (NNFU) has voiced concern over the looming drought in a statement issued yesterday.

"The NNFU expresses its profound concern on the national natural drought disaster due to poor rainfall. Despite hopes and forecasts as reported by the Weather Bureau of possible rain showers, it is now ... obvious that Namibia will be experiencing a profound drought situation," the statement read.

The NNFU issued the statement after visits to many parts of the country to assess the situation on the ground.

The union said the country is largely dependent on agriculture for job creation and food production and any drought will prove to be a calamity.

It further states that the poor rains received so far create an opportunity for pests that attack crop fields and worms that destroy livestock pastures.

The union now demands that the government declare a drought emergency and take appropriate action to salvage the situation, such as the reintroduction of livestock subsidies.

Regional farmers' unions and local farmers' associations are urged to maintain close contact with NNFU and seek possible alternatives in addressing the issue.

The NNFU requested the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry to help communal farmers to vaccinate their livestock to ensure their animals' compliance with EU and other lucrative beef market requirements.

President Hifikepunye Pohamba warned of a looming drought earlier this month in his address at the opening of Cabinet. Pohamba urged the executive branch of government to take action to avert possible disaster.

He called on the emergency management unit (EMU) in the Office of the Prime Minister to coordinate efforts and pool resources in the event of a drought.

Nudo of Namibia also joined the chorus of those expressing concerns over a possible drought.

In a statement issued yesterday, Nudo said farmers, in particular in the communal areas where they cannot practice rotational grazing, will be the victims of the looming drought.

NUDO concurs with the NNFU, saying the government should roll out drought relief interventions in timely fashion.

"The current situation is profound enough for us to react and take precautionary measures. Prevention and early detection are always better and cost efficient," the statement said.

The EMU is yet to respond to questions sent by The Namibian about its preparedness for a drought emergency.

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