The Namibian.... Still telling it as it is.
COMMUNAL grazing in the Omaheke Region is under siege from a tree called Omusaona in Otjiherero and Mongana in Setswana.
A number of other trees and shrubs also appear, such as Omutjete, Otjimbuku and others. But Omusaona is dominant in all constituencies.
Travel through Okamapingo near Okondjatu, Okahungu, Otjinene. Go through Ozombuzovindimba to Eiseb and Gam. From there access Epukiro via Otjimanangombe, Ovinjuru, Omauouozonjanda. Go to Otjombinde via Otjomisaona. Then move to Omongua via Aruams, Orevia, Onderombapa, Omutumbondundu, Otjiungukua, Okomungondo, Okonjoka, Otjeue, Okumu, and Okungasa. Travel the Korridor line, number one through twenty two.
The character of grazing remains the same. Omusaona has taken over half of the grazing land. Where Omusaona grows all grass dies and this explains why there is drought in most communal constituencies in Omaheke every year. What is even more frustrating to the farmers who at least want to do something is the fact that this is open area for all to use and clean up campaigns get bogged down on who will do what for whom.
Consequently, the farmers take it as it comes and they move from area to area in the hope of getting open and better spaces. They apply for resettlement on the farms that the government has bought and they wait forever. Or, they just keep on farming in anticipation for better rains next time around.
There is much that the farmers and Omaheke dwellers can do to ameliorate their plight. They can team up and declare war on the trees and shrubs that threaten better grazing and they can team up and source the chemicals that commercial farmers are effectively using to control the same threats of bush encroachment. The chemicals for debushing have been available at shops like Agra for years and as of late, the Meat Board of Namibia sells some chemicals that seem to be relatively affordable. But communal farmers seem threatened by a mixed blessing of defiance and ignorance, bordering on complacency. While some very successful farmers have done it in the same Omaheke, some farmers cannot take that they have to continue farming there and must clear the bush for others who do not want to participate. They hold that the land belongs to the government and why can the government not deploy prisoners to clear the areas, or get resettled like others, in better farming places called farms.
In 1991 Prime Minister Hage Geingob convened a land conference, which then proved to be the right thing to do for purposes of brainstorming as government contemplated policies for state governance; after all it was only one year after independence.
During that exercise, Member of Parliament Katuutire Kaura decried the land ownership conundrum and said in defense of communal farmers, that even though they have limited farming space to themselves, they remained the best farmers in the land because they are the main supplies of live stock for export and meat consumption in the country. This assertion holds true today as it was in 1991. While the land question remains a thorny issue that must be resolved, all available farming land, not only commercial farms, must be protected against predators and parasites that encroach on effective farming and to this end, all sectors in agriculture must not be found wanting. Individual Farmers in Omaheke must employ all strategies to curb bush encroachment and so must all farmers unions, the regional and the central governments. Bush encroachment threatens to close down farming in Omaheke’s communal constituencies and no one must escape this challenge.