FOR the sake of keeping young knowledgeable farmers in the industry, ways will have to be found to refinance them or to subsidise their debt in some way or another. The next two and three seasons after the worst drought in living memory, is going to be crucial.
Cattle and small stock farmers in every part of the country has been hit hard by the drought which is now generally being described as the worst in 100 years and the killer of thousands of head of cattle and sheep.
Figures of animal deaths well over 100 000 in certain areas are being bandied around and farmers bought fodder and feeds well beyond their financial capacity to keep animals alive. After the drought, debt will have to be serviced and lives will have to be rebuilt.
Cash flow is going to be a serious challenge and production will have to be restarted, is the opinion of the chief executive of the Namibian Agricutural Union, Mr. Roelie Venter, representing the commercial farmers of Namibia.
At a recent conference, which attracted role players from both the communal and commercial sectors, the agri-industry, financiers and scientists, the consensus was that the aftermath of the drought will hardest of all.
With regards to re-financing the sector, which makes up as much of 40 percent of the country’s economy, Mr. Venter says after the conference discussions on finding solutions went ahead and thoughts on what could be done is forging ahead. He sees the land and agricultural bank playing a major role, as is commercial banks.
Government is obviously the pivotal point in making things happen, as there is money going around locally and internationally, providing such money can be safeguarded. These conversations are beings conducted in the interest of all farmers, commercial and communal.
He said yesterday farmers embraced the opportunity presented by the charcoal industry fully to ensure their cash flow and keep thousands of workers employed.
“That, however, is a single green shoot in an industry beset with catastrophic outcomes over a number of years, We will have to approach this dilemma holistically and find a lasting solution. The road ahead will not be easy,” he said.
He is confident that organised agriculture will have a plan to present to government soon.
“Then we will have to discuss and execute it in an effort to keep farmers doing what they are best at. Farm and produce food for the nation.”