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Tuesday 22 January 2019
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Drought conditions persists, despite rainfall

…as farmers eye full production
Grass has germinated but still short.The Namibia Meteorological Services (NMS) says the greater parts of the interior have received good rain fall showers since the turn of the year, but was quick to point out that not all parts of the country received showers-especially the north-western parts of the country.
 
Speaking to The Patriot on Wednesday, NMS technician Sieglinde Somses said the low pressure system was moving to the west of the interior and more moisture is “confined” to the north-western parts of the country meaning rain can be expected.
 
Somses added that some areas are yet to receive significant rainfall such as Opuwo, Sesfontein, Khorixas,Outjo and Omaruru, but they can expect some showers over the coming days.
On the agricultural front, Somses said that the current rainy season looks promising, but for most parts of the country rain activities are normal.
 
However, Somses added that the current rainfalls received so far does not mean it is the end of the drought which has negatively impacted farming activities.
 
“We have had a normal rain season thus far (in some regions), so up until we have above normal rains for an entire season, it would mean the drought is not over,” she said.
 
“For now, we are just reaching equilibrium (normal rainy season) meaning the drought is not yet over, there is enough rain to take us over to the next rainy season,” noted Somses.
 
Showers of relief
Moreover, farmers and experts alike in the agriculture sector believe that if the rain patterns continue uninterrupted, the “serial” drought which has threatened food security and employment in the country will come to an end.
 
In an interview with The Patriot this week, Namibia Agriculture Union (NAU) regional representative for the Grootfontein-Tsumeb-Otavi region Piet Stoman told this paper that he is “happy” with the overall rainfall received so far.
 
According to Stoman, most of the northern parts of the country received significant amounts of rainfall since the beginning of the year.
 
“Most of the North and North-Eastern area have received a lot of rain to such an extent that it is difficult to cultivate the agricultural land due to the presence of water,”
“Farmers in this area (Tsumeb, Otavi and Grootfontein) are very satisfied with the rainfall so far,” said Stoman.
However, Stoman acknowledged that the same cannot be said about the Western parts of Namibia as places around Omaruru, Karibib and Outjo are yet to receive any significant rainfalls.
When queried by The Patriot on whether the government should continue providing farmers with animal feed and agricultural seed, Stoman said it was still early to stop such assistance because the drought impact will not disappear “overnight”.
 
According to Stoman, the current drought situation in Namibia dates back to as far as 2013 and it will take farmers at least five years before agriculture activities (crops and livestock) return to their productive best.
 
“The grazing land is in a bad condition and will not be better overnight, it does not rain grass for that matter,” added Stoman.
“Even after the rain started, we still needed to feed our animals because there was not enough grass,” Stoma noted. In addition, Stoman remains positive that with time and more showers, farming activities will return back to the normal production system in Namibia.
 
However, despite farmers selling significant numbers of their livestock due to the persistent drought over the years, Stoman believes government has little to do assist them in retaining their livestock.
 
Stoman does not expect government to aid farmers who sold their livestock due to drought in recovering these livestock. However, he expects farmers to acquire loans to solve their different problems.
 
Rainfall effects
Echoing the words of Stoman, a technician in the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry Venomukona Tjiseua said the current rainy season “looks promising when compared to previous years.”
 
According to Tjiseua, the eastern parts of Namibia received good showers which is crucial for agricultural purposes. On the contrary, Tjiseua was quick to point out that not all parts of the country received sufficient showers stressing that some places are in “dire” need of rainfall.
 
“The general rain season in Namibia begins in October and ends around April, but some places are yet to receive any rain with three months to go, the situation for them is not positive,” lamented Tjiseua.
 
Tjiseua advised farmers to keep records of rainfall as it can help them make informed agricultural decisions instead as opposed to “guess work”.
 
When asked whether government should consider halting assistance provided to farmers because of the rainfall, Tjiseua said it is “premature” to make such a decision.
 
In his observations, Tjiseua sees no problem with government’s efforts to aid farmers with agricultural services regardless of the weather conditions.
 
“The government should not provide services such as seed distribution if they forecast poor rainfall in the future because it will be a waste of money, energy and time to prepare their field,”
However, Tjiseua is optimistic that the agriculture sector will be on the rise again as rain which “determines everything” is finally here now.



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