7 November 2017

Namibia: Backyard Livestock Farmers Appeal for Land

Residents of Stampriet in the Hardap region, who have turned to backyard farming for a living, are appealing to government to resettle them.

At least 13 families have turned to livestock farming at the village to make ends meet.

They said it was difficult to farm in an urban area as they have lost livestock to thieves, while other animals have died from eating discarded plastic bags.

According to the farmers, they have on numerous occasions applied unsuccessfully as the Auob Farmers' Co-operative to be allocated a farming unit on one of the farms government has acquired for resettlement.

"For the past 27 years, no resident of the Stampriet village has benefited from the government's resettlement programme," the co-operative's spokesperson, Jakobus /Uirab, said.

/Uirab said the families also risked their health with backyard farming, as they are forced to live in close proximity with their livestock pens.

"Every day, we have to endure the terrible smell coming from the kraals, which also attracts flies. But we have no choice because livestock farming is our only source of income," he stated.

The 73-year-old backyard farmer said the families, if allocated a farming unit, expect to double their livestock numbers, and would thus boost livestock production in the country.

"We are forced to keep a small number of livestock due to a lack of grazing," said /Uirab.

The authorities pleaded for patience.

"Although we understand their plight to be considered for resettlement, we plead with them to also understand that the ministry has a host of planned activities that have to be religiously implemented, given the financial circumstances that we find ourselves in," the land reform ministry's spokesperson, Chrispin Matongela, noted.

He said the ministry has over the years, based on merit, assisted many beneficiaries on an ad hoc basis, which is not feasible currently because of the financial constraints of the country.

"So, prioritisation for now is the bottomline for us to deliver on our plan," he stated.

Matongela added that the backyard livestock farmers are farming on urban land, which is not the ministry's "forte and mandate," and encouraged them to forward their appeals for land to the ministry of urban and rural development, and the local authority for further engagement.

The local council's chief executive officer, Dino Kohima, yesterday said livestock farming is restricted in urban areas due to health risks.

However, council allows the 13 households to keep animals at the village, and has even allocated a small piece of land to them for grazing to "meet them halfway".

"We cannot chase them away," he said, explaining that many of the farmers, who are original inhabitants of the village, had previously been employed on commercial farms, and when they were sacked or retired, they came home with their livestock.

According to Kohima, council has started negotiating with adjacent commercial farmers to buy a piece of land, which they intend to allocate to the 13 families for rearing their livestock.

The CEO also confirmed that no resident of Stampriet has benefited from government's resettlement programme since independence.

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