AN open conversation between farmers and senior management of Namwater on the shores of the Hardap Dam, ensured production on the fertile fields of Namibia’s largest irrigation scheme up to and around the end of January 2020, by which time adequate rains has hopefully been recorded in the catchment area of the country’s senior dam.
According to the chairman of the Hardap Farmers Union, Mr. Dawie de Klerk, an agreement was reached that 40 percent of measured and registered irrigation lands will be withdrawn from production as from November 1, until normal conditions return. That would, in a worst case scenario, leave the dam at 4, 5 percent of dead capacity (the point where no extraction by gravitational forces are possible anymore) and even that would assure water supply to the greater Mariental area, saving the town and its economical and social network intact for at least up to March 2021, which would signal Day Zero for the southern capital of the Hardap Region.
At dead capacity, floating pumps will be installed to extract water for the town.
“The agreement marks a very open conversation and great measure of understanding between farmers and the authorities. Namwater fully understands that the 1 000 or more families dependent on their livelihoods from the scheme, will impact the town negatively, creating untold social problems, economic hardship and whatever goes with that,” he explained.
Referring to the number of farmers on the irrigation scheme, Mr. De Klerk hailed the spirit of entrepreneurship amongst the generation of farmers now working the land, “They are suffering the effects of the countrywide drought, but they embraced technology, new cultivars and greater knowledge to farm better, produce more and manage more secure, in an effort to pull through this catastrophe. In fact, their contribution to the ability of farmers in other areas, through the consistent production of fodder, is noteworthy.”
Around 2 300ha of irrigation has been developed around the Hardap Dam, of which 60 percent will thus remain in production until January.
On the prospects of rain, Mr. De Klerk said only very brave men will speak on that, but there is hope, looking at the prevailing winds and reading the sciences that foretells the future. For the rest, it remains a matter for prayer.