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More farmers opting for tractors as ploughing season kicks off

More farmers opting for tractors as ploughing season kicks off

Placido Hilukilwa

THE recent rains have signalled the onset of the rainy season.

Farmers countrywide are literally putting hands to the plough, utilising either traditional or modern agricultural instruments.

The government provides tractor subsidies and seeds at a cheaper price.

The aim is to ensure a harvest that equals, or surpasses, the harvest of the previous season.

In the faraway rural areas, subsistence farmers still use draft animals – donkeys and oxen – but an increasing number lean towards the use of tractors that are faster, but relatively expensive, at about N$500 per hour.

According to the agriculture ministry spokesperson, Jona Musheko, the government provides tractors at a subsidised price.

However, they are not enough.

To fill the gap, the government has roped in private tractor owners in a price-sharing scheme whereby the farmer pays half and the government the other half.

However, the slow bureaucratic process is making the scheme unrealistic to both the farmer and the owner of the tractor, said Likius Amutenya, an Oshakati resident who farms at the Uuvudhiya area of the Oshana Region.

“We appreciate the government’s willingness to assist the subsistence farmers, but the scheme is simply not working. You register, say in November, and then wait and wait. By the time the tractor arrives in late January or early February, it is already too late. Therefore, we opt to pay the full price instead of waiting and missing a potentially good harvest,” he said.

Many private tractor owners are opting out of the government scheme, preferring customers who settle the bill in cash.

They complain that the government takes too long to pay.

“Yes, we take long because we have to verify information before making the payments,” said Musheko.

He said that this year’s harvest was good, amid challenges such as locusts and the late onset of the rainy season.

Meanwhile, the seed business is booming and young entrepreneurs are cashing in by selling farming implements such as hoes and hoe handles on the streets of the northern towns.

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