FAO comes to the rescue of drought-hit farmers

16 December 2016
Author   Kaula Nhongo
The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) is working together with Government to assist almost 30,000 households affected by the ongoing drought in the hardest-hit regions of Kunene, Omusati and Erongo.
The households are set to receive crop seeds and animal feed, to mitigate the impacts of El Nino induced drought on pastoral and agro pastoral communities in these areas.
The project is estimated to cost about N$7 million, and will run until June next year.
This comes after FAO together with government, undertook an assessment mission to the worst drought affected communities in those areas which revealed average crop loses for maize at about 95 percent and 73 percent in Omusati and Kunene regions, respectively.
The assessment showed that farmers affected by drought require resources if they are to plant for this year’s season which started last month.
The project will target 1 600 small scale vulnerable pastoral households affected by drought in the regions of Erongo (900 beneficiary households), Kunene (500 beneficiary households) and Omusati (200 beneficiary households).
This will involve the procurement and provision of 496 tonnes of livestock feed (256 tonnes of grass hay) and 240 tonnes of multi nutrient block supplements to feed around 9600 large stock equivalents for two months (November-December) until pasture fully regenerates.
In addition, training will be provided by government extension staff on good livestock management practices.
Distribution of crop seeds will involve the procurement and provision of 81 tonnes of cowpea seeds to 27000 drought affected agro pastoral households in the regions of Erongo (1000 beneficiary households), Kunene (6000 beneficiary households) and Omusati (20 000 beneficiary households).
The seeds will enable each household to plant up to 0.2 hectares totalling about 5400 hectares with cowpeas.
Government has already budgeted about N$616 million for the 2016/17 drought relief programme from August 2016 to March 2017, however, the recurrence, severity and geographical coverage of the drought (covering more than 60 percent of Namibia) were not anticipated, which led to Government seeking assistance to support the 2016/17 Drought Response Plan.
According to the crop assessment report produced by the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry this year, there was a decrease of 62 percent in the production of maize and a 39 percent decrease in the production of mahangu as compared to the average of the previous five years.
In addition, water scarcity increased disease incidence, inadequate structures and extremely poor rangeland conditions heavily impacted the livestock sector through loss of physical condition with many farmers reporting livestock mortalities and reduced livestock productivity.
High food prices, declining livestock prices leading to poor terms of trade for livestock keepers have also worsened the situation translating into the loss of livelihoods for 1.5 million subsistence farmers and pastoralists.
More than 720, 000 people out of the country’s population of 2.3 million are estimated to be food insecure in the lean season.


The Windhoek Observer is an English-language weekly newspaper, published in Namibia by Paragon Investment Holding. It is the country's oldest and largest circulating weekly.

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