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Drought affects farmers most

Last year’s drought has affected many farmers in a severely negatively way. Known as the “worst drought” the country has experienced in 30 years, it meant that in order to survive, farmers had to sell their livestock at a much lower price. The drought affected some parts of the country so much that at some auctions especially in the southern parts of the country, livestock was given away at very low prices to many other farmers who still had grazing, or could afford to feed the animals. Although, it was a bargain for those speculators who bought the livestock for such a low price, it also meant that they had to spend even more on fodder just to keep the animals alive.
On our farms, we had to spend double the amount than usual, and it was not easy because some feeding products are very expensive. However, not all farmers were eager to sell their animals to auctioneers because they felt that it was a waste of time and that they lost out more than they profitted. Some auction prices dropped by hundreds of dollars forgetting that most farmers sell their livestock to make a living. Some farmers felt they stood a better chance of getting more out of the deals, if they negotiated on their own. Our livestock is our income, and sometimes auctioneers can be unreasonable. As a farmer, I do not only think that we survive from our livestock but we also maintain them from the money we receive when we sell them. However, many auctioneers forget that they are also farmers and impose harsh requirements when farmers want to sell their animals at their auctions. Maintenance of livestock requires thousands of dollars, and the drought has not made it easy for farmers who depend mostly on natural vegetation for their animals to graze.  I know the prices of livestock and it was shocking to see that cows were sold for N$3000 to N$4500 in some parts of the country while goats and sheep went for as little as N$400. Recently, I went to an auction because I wanted to sell my sheep, only to be told that the going price for each sheep was N$500. I refused point blank, how can I sell sheep that weight 34kg each, for that ridiculous amount? That is plain daylight robbery. It cost me more to bring those animals to the auction, and if I had to sell for that price, it meant that I would be making a loss, which I totally refused to do. I would rather slaughter and sell my livestock privately, because we as farmers do our best to produce good quality animals even though it is not a stud.  We have to buy boer goats which cost between N$8000 and N$15000, to produce good quality, but due to the drought some farmers were not able to buy quality boer goat rams for breeding last year. But hopefully, the heavy rains we have been getting over the past few days will continue and farmers can now slowly but surely recover from the damage that the drought caused, and hopefully the prices of livestock will also increase. Many farmers now look forward to the auction dates in their towns. It will be a great experience to watch how auctioneers will be handling the selling of their precious livestock, because this year will definitely not be another give-away year for farmers.

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