WITHOUT being naive, some forward looking Namibians regularly succeed in picking up the spirits of others that are bound to get lost in the multitude of bad news surrounding them.
A farmer and businessman of the critically dry northwest in the area of Kalkfeld, Gunther Kahl, yesterday called on farmers, big and small, to keep good faith and keep on with what they know best… beating the harsh Namibian droughts that follows each other as sure as night follows day.
When asked about his mega-business in trading fodder and how the current drought impacts his trade, he replied it is going well as a matter of fact, but it is just business, trading in a commodity that is in high demand right now.
“But we have to balance the trading principles of Ekundi Farming, with the reality on the ground. We grew from cutting veldt grass on our own land years ago to a substantial player in the market. We import all sorts of fodder to supply co-ops, feedlots, traders and private farmers. The farmers are really struggling right now and despite our capacity to import from neighbouring countries, farmers can only buy what they can afford to pay. Consequently, they can only feed their animals what they can afford to buy,” Kahl said.
He is a reader of the markets, warning that, for instance, Lucerne growers in the Hardap Region should be careful in determining prices per bale for their product in anticipation of the Hardap dam running too low for irrigation by December and a resulting shortage.
“It is going to rain again, and these farmers will plant and sell again,” he said
Kahl said at the moment there is still plenty of grass, high density bales of teff, mealie and corn rests available. Chop from Zambia is a problem though and farmers love to mix that into their feeding rations.
He also encouraged farmers not to withdraw from civic responsibilities while they are occupied with the very real task of surviving the drought.
“Take up your civil responsibilities. Contribute in every way possible… in your area by providing knowledge and guidance, in your town, and even on political level. If you cannot get an electricity connection sorted out, go see the area manager and ask him to his face what the problem is. If you must, go ask your councillor how he thinks you must go forward, contribute to country and provide jobs if they do not get the job done,” he said.
He said he is sure the farmers in dire straits now, will come through this bad patch.
I am travelling all over, and I can tell you despite very negative reports, there are still a lot of fine looking animals around. The farmers all over the country are just that. Farmers.
“They love what they are doing and they cannot give up. It is not a fun thing. They have to provide for their families. I am sure there are more than one million animals above the red line in the communal areas, and those farmers will do all they can to pull them through.
Commercial farmers have more resources of their own, but also more experience. All of them have a deep love of their trade, North and South, and if we all do what we do best, we will succeed” he assured those feeling despondent.
Kahl is sure the one great lesson out of this drought is the capacity to change and adapt rapidly according to needs and circumstances. Farmers are likely to start feeding animals more from locally produced fodder and feeds and even start to farm smaller tracts of land, but to intensify their operations.
“The scene is changing and we must adapt, again, like during previous events. But we are tenacious, we can do it. But settled farmers must understand, help and support the new entrants in the industry. It is an endless labour of real pioneering farmers,” Namibia’s grass-whisperer said.