The current devastating effects of the severe drought has almost brought some communal farmers in the far south of Namibia on their knees due to heavy livestock losses.
During a recent visit to the Karasburg East Constituency in the //Kharas Region, Farmers Forum came across Immanauel Swartbooi who shared his painstaking experience. "I have been farming for the past 19 years with large and small livestock where I see good and bad years, but this year's drought was the worst I ever experienced," Swartbooi lamented. He added that times were good at the beginning where farming was indeed his means of income. "Those were the years I could hire employees and provide food for my family," the farmer reminisced.
Swartbooi narrated that he has so far lost 10 large and 18 small livestock due to a lack of good grazing and the absence of rain. "We as farmers are desperate and suffering, but despite that trial, we will by all means try to cling on to farming, thereby not giving up," he remarked optimistically. He further said they are collectively contributing financially from monies generated from selling their livestock that are in a better condition in order to lease better grazing with sufficient water for those that can still survive.
"Currently I can only take on workers to assist me on a part-time basis due to a lack of finances," said Swartbooi. He stressed that being unemployed, farmers are solely depending on farming activities as a means of living.
When probed upon, the farmer responded that they did not yet receive financial assistance from the ongoing drought relief programme as ministerial officials informed them that there are no application forms for assistance available and that they would revert to these farmers.
Swartbooi recommends that government should seriously start to drill boreholes or bring water closer to the areas they are farming on in order to save their animals from dying of thirst. "We furthermore like to request for financial assistance from the government in order to relocate our livestock to better grazing areas and pay for the lease of such land," he said. Another recommendation Swartbooi offered was for the food bank to be rolled out to communal farmers in Karasburg East Constituency as opposed to only maize meal they are currently receiving under the drought relief programme since they cannot only survive on porridge.
Swartbooi, in addition, said most of the farmers in the surrounding areas lose all their animals, forcing them to give up hope and relocate to urban areas in search for greener pastures.
"I do however remains positive and optimistic that better days will come and I will hang on to farming, hoping rains will eventually come," Swartbooi concluded.