Farmers assess harvest prospects

22 February 2017 | Agriculture

Crop farmers have expressed mixed feelings over the good rains being experienced countrywide.

They say rain is not the only factor determining a good harvest, as their fields are threatened by all kinds of pests such as insects, quelea birds and even their neighbours’ livestock.

The drought of the past few years meant that farmers could harvest next to nothing to feed their families.

This year started on a promising note, though, with good rains received in the north-central and north-eastern regions so far.

Ewi lyaNooli spoke to 62-year-old Selma Seblon at Otuwala village in outside Oshakati this month. She was inspecting her field and re-sowing bare patches where nothing had germinated.

Seblon said she hoped for a better harvest than last year, when her nine-member family had to buy maize and received drought aid.

“Last year I couldn’t even manage to fill a 25-litre bucket with the maize I harvested. This year the rain is promising and my family are grateful to God for blessing us with the rain so far,” she said.

She said the heat was too much for the early crops at the beginning of the current rainy season, and she had to re-sow her field. Caterpillars also threatened her young crops.

“As you can see there, the heat was too much and the crops were destroyed. If the rain could have come earlier, the crops would have been looking more promising than they are now,” she said.

Ewi lyaNooli also visited the field of 53-year-old Angelina Immanuel, who had the same problem.

Immanuel started cultivating her field in October last year after the first rains. That was followed by a hot and dry spell that damaged the young crops.

“As you can see these crops, they have yellow leaves which just tell you how bad the heat was, but we hope the rain will save the rest,” she said.

Immanuel said seed-eating birds remained a problem.

When the plants are larger farmers tie plastic bags to them to scare off the birds, but she said her crops were not strong enough yet.

“One only ties plastic bags to crops when the heads are strong enough but in this case they are not and for now we just hope for the best,” she said.

Asked about her harvest prospects, Immanuel said she was hoping for a good yield thanks to the rain.

Ewi lyaNooli has observed that in all four north-central regions the fields are green and some farmers expect to start harvesting by mid-March.

Too much rain could cause crop damage, though. In the Omusati Region some villages have been flooded already and farmers hope that the heavy rains won’t continue.

KENYA KAMBOWE

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