“The current drought in Namibia is a serious concern and affects every person in this country, from farmer, to industries and consumers,” said Gunther Ling, Managing Director of Namibia Dairies, at a recent meeting with Namibian farmers.
The Namibia Agricultural Union’s (NAU) Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Sakkie Coetzee, echoed these sentiments and cautioned that should the drought persist, it would have a negative impact on the livelihood of every Namibian, and ultimately the economy at large.
Coetzee explained that as a result of the poor rains, there was very limited, and in some cases, no feed available for farm animals, which has in turn caused for an increase of at least 20% on feed costs over the past few months. On a year-on-year basis, feed cost has seen an increase of 50% since July last year.
“Maintaining feed supply thus becomes a very costly exercise, which is why we recently saw the increase in the price of maize and pasta. The unfortunate reality is that food prices are bound to increase drastically, and the cost of putting food on the table will increase. Farmers are just not in a position to absorb these crippling costs,” he said.
Stressing the direness of the situation facing farmers, local farmer Roelie Venter said,: “When we have a short period of drought, grass usually grows out of reserves when rain is received, however, because this drought has been prolonged, even the reserves from which new grass usually sprouts, are dying. So while we have to deal with the immediate impact of increasing feed costs, we also worry about the longer term environmental impact of this prolonged drought.”
According to the NAU’s Commodities Manager, Harald Marggraff, there is a real risk that some farmers will lose everything.
Said Marggraff, “Many farmers are on their knees, praying for some rain. I don’t think people realise how serious the matter is. And the ripple effect it will have on the supply chain, will be a very unpleasant affair, for everyone”.