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Liina Ndahangashimwe has been farming with pearl millet and legumes for over 25 years in a far-flung village in Namibia’s northern Oshana region.

Apart from farming for communal and household consumption, the 58 years old subsistence farmer would trade her surplus yields locally to earn an income.

Business24

Farming was her lifeline. But in the last few years, agricultural output declined following a dry spell that hard hit the country.

“I harvested next to nothing in the last two years, all as a result of the negative impact of drought and climate variability,” said the farmer on Monday.

The Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry’s outlook report states that the 2018/19 rainfall season was appalling with unusual rainfall patterns, with crop-producing regions receiving an inadequate and below-average crop production.

The Namibian President Hage Geingob in May, this year, also declared drought as a state of emergency.

But recent rainfall in Namibia has given farmers hope for a prosperous season and bumper harvest.

“Fortunately, at the start of this farming season, we received good rainfall. The soil is wet enough for us to start ploughing, as we hope for the better harvest and production,” said Ndahangashimwe.

Farmers have since started ploughing their fields with tractors, charged at 500 Namibian dollars (34 U.S. dollars) per hour.

“I hired a private tractor to plough. I spent about 1,500 Namibian dollars because my field is big,” said Ndahangashimwe.

Before, farmers would use both tractors and animals such as oxen and donkeys to cultivate. However, the animals perished during the devastating drought period that plagued the country.

She is not the only one. Maria David, 62-years old farmer, decided to plough with a tractor after the first rain.

Like many farmers in the area, to cut cost, David made use of the government-subsidised tractors to usher her into the farming season.

Through the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry, the government subsidises private tractors to plough for communal farmers at a nominal rate.

The aim, said Magret Kalo, senior public relations officer in the Agriculture Ministry, is to ease the financial burdens on farmers.

Meanwhile, to address gaps in human resources, the younger generation is assisting the older generation in sowing and soiling preparation.

“Most school-going children and the working youth are on festive holidays at the village. Thus they are helping us before they leave in January,” said David.

This, according to the elderly farmers, will improve productivity and subsequently, agricultural output.

In the interim, following the good rains, the farmers are hopeful for a bumper harvest.

“Last year, this time, things did not look good. We are anticipating good rainfall this year, as we are prepared to work hard for a bumper harvest,” said David.

Leonard Hango, a hydrologist with the Agriculture Ministry, said that that the forecast locally predicts that the northern regions are likely to receive regular to above-normal rainfall from December until next year February. Enditem

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