Farmers, don't give up

29 May 2019 | Agriculture

Kavango East regional governor Samuel Mbambo has urged subsistence farmers not to give up on their fields because of this year's poor rainfall, which has left thousands of families with little or no harvest.

Mbambo describes the current situation as dire, saying that many families are finding it hard to make ends meet.

The two Kavango regions, which are mainly rural, are among the poorest regions in the country and most people there depend on their crops for survival.

The Kavango regions have the potential to be the food basket of the country because of good soil and reliable water supply from the Okavango River.

Kavango East is also known for the Operation Werengendje initiative, which promotes food production for own consumption and for sale.

Operation Werengendje encourages people to start with kitchen gardens in their backyards and eventually produce on a large scale.

“We thought we would get rain and now the rain did not come. But we [in charge of] Operation Werengendje are not discouraged,” Mbambo says.

“Now that the government is intervening to make sure that people do not die of hunger, I also want to encourage people to start clearing their mahangu fields for the next season.

"They should not be discouraged; we don't know what is next. Operation Werengendje is here to stay.”

When asked about the investment in Operation Werengendje, Mbambo said all constituencies in Kavango East received funds to help farmers plough their fields, but unfortunately poor rainfall meant that this money was invested in vain. He said the remaining funds for Operation Werengendje would be used for next year's programme.

“We used the funds to plough but unfortunately it's a crop failure but you cannot reverse the money that you have invested in mahangu fields. We will keep what is left for the next season,” Mbambo said.

The governor said the programme intended to incorporate horticulture on the banks of the Okavango River. “In the long run we would like to see [the focus of] Operation Werengendje moving from grain production to horticulture and planting of fruit trees,” Mbambo said. He said the N$1.4 billion Agricultural Mechanisation and Seed System Improvement Project (Namsip) would make a significant contribution to the country's food security.

The specific objectives of Namsip are to enhance agricultural productivity in order to reduce food imports, create jobs and enhance household incomes, which would improve the lives of rural people.