Namibia: Hardap Dam Crisis 'Catastrophic' to Dairy Industry

11 February 2020

Namibia Dairy Producers Association (DPA) says the recent closing of the Hardap Dam sluices close to Mariental in the Hardap region will put the country's dairy industry, already faced by the concurrent drought, on the verge of collapse.

Before the closure, the dam supplied water to green schemes, farmers around the dam, as well as potable water to residents of Mariental.

However, the water level of the dam has decreased rapidly because of the lack of water inflow, attributed to poor rainfall. As a result, NamWater recently closed off water supply to farms that relied on the dam for irrigation.

"Hardap producers alone supplies 80% of the milk nationwide and with the closure of the Hardap Dam, you can imagine the catastrophe that this will lead to," the association said.

Therefore, the association said there is a need for all relevant stakeholders to work together collectively to seek for possible solutions in order to avoid the total collapse of the industry.

Furthermore, the association decries the continuing drought in some parts of the country, saying that the drought coupled with the poor economic situation in the country has forced some dairy farmers to exit the industry.

The association further says milk production is decreasing in most dairy producing regions due to reasons such as producers reducing feeding cost which affects the volume of milk produced and in most cases producers selling some of their dairy cows for slaughtering.

This, according the association has a negative influence to the supply of raw milk to the processor.

They say the annual milk production volumes have declined with nine percent (two million litres) from 2018 (23 million) to 2019 (21 million).

"Based on our benchmark (milk production cost index), feeding cost is 71% of the production cost, and comparing 2018 4th quarter to 2019 4th quarter feed, costs increased by about 13%, in that total expenses remain higher in comparison to the income."

Also, similar concerns were raised by the Agronomy Producers Association (APA), which said that with the closure of the Hardap Dam, they do not expect any harvest of maize from Hardap region this year.

"Hopefully some wheat will be planted, if it rains in the coming days."

APA announced that the APA member meeting and information day will be held in Grootfontein early April, the dates and venues are yet to be communicated.

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