Govt Allays Fears Over Rain

The government is optimistic that the desperately awaited rains will grace the country soon, but said it remains on alert and ready for all possible events – including drought.

Although weather experts have predicted good rainfall across the country in recent weeks, Namibians, especially crop and livestock farmers continue to wait in vain for the promised showers. Some communal crop farmers have in recent weeks helplessly watched as their crops, which they planted in November, wilted due to lack of rainfall.

The Minister of Agriculture, Water and Forestry John Mutorwa yesterday told New Era that he was worried by the delayed rainfall but remained hopeful that the country would receive good rains soon. He said that the government was ready to assist Namibians if the lack of rainfall persisted.

“Of course I am worried but I remain hopeful that rain will come,” said Mutorwa.

Should the country face a dry spell again like in 2013 in which the country recorded its worst drought ever, Mutorwa said, government was ready to help Namibians.

“If we do not get good rains government will step in. We cannot just sit and watch our people suffer but of course the best scenario would be one where we have rain and our people can produce their own food,” said a hopeful Mutorwa.

He was also hopeful that the produce at the country’s green scheme projects would once more come in handy should the lack of rainfall persist.

“I visited the green scheme projects towards the end of last year and the situation there looks promising,” said the Minister who has over the years been lauded for his efforts to make the green scheme projects a success.

The absence of sufficient rainfall in 2013 resulted in the country experiencing its worst drought in decades, even prompting government to declare a state of emergency.

The government then set aside over N$200 million to tackle the crisis after more than half a million Namibians were rendered food insecure along with their livestock.

Climate change has been identified as one of the leading factors making Namibia increasingly prone to drought and extreme weather patterns.

New Era on Tuesday reported that there were predictions of an El Nintildeo hitting the Southern Hemisphere summer that would last into the first months of 2015, and this has Namibia pinning its hope on late but good rains towards the end of January that hopefully would be maintained in February and March.

According to the SADC Regional Climate Outlook, the picture looks bleaker for Namibia, which received an average rainfall of below 100 millimetres when rain started in mid-October to November and December.

Namibia’s rainfall levels were very low compared to the 400 millimetres in South Africa, and the above 600 millimetres recorded in Malawi, Zambia, Angola, southern half of DRC, central and northern Mozambique as well as Mauritius and Madagascar.

In interviews with New Era, crop and livestock farmers in the north-central regions expressed different views on what to expect from the current rainy season.

While most parts of Namibia reported improved grazing conditions except the north central and north western part of Namibia after some rain earlier last year, a bleak picture is starting to unfold in the absence of rain in the current season that started in October 2014 and has up to now showed very little to impress farmers.

Source : New Era