Small-scale farmers at Camp Five are devastated after the Otjiwarongo Municipality removed fencing from their garden and set it on fire.
With good rains received in Otjiwarongo over the past few days had farmers hopeful that in no time they would obtain what they sowed.
Farmers at Camp Five had their confidences ruined after the municipality burned down their garden fencing, which was made out of bushes to protect their produce from domestic animals that are kept in camps near their gardens.
Talking to OtjiFM, one of the affected farmers Gabriel Matheus said they were not aware if this will happen to them, this year. Explaining that they were busy in their garden when the municipality personnel alive.
“They started at my garden since I am the one at the beginning. In the guidance of the police officers, I saw them pouring fuel on my fence, when I asked them what they were doing they replied that, if its paining me I must go to their office, they were sent to do their job”, said Matheus.
Matheus stated that they were left in shock and with no saliva in their mouth. Adding that this is the only way they can feed themselves.
“We don’t have other means to feed ourselves at this time of the year, we are not employed and not included in Harambee Feeding Program. We were told to remove our fence out of municipality marks and we did it. Other thing is that municipality personnel informed us last year that this year 2023 will be our last year for cultivating, and that’s what forced us to cultivate”, he stated.
Matheus is calling for justice to prevail in this matter, there are those keep their domestic animals in municipality land but are not affected. “Why its only us that are practicing in garden are forced to remove our fence but those that are farming with animals were left?”, angrily asked.
Another farmer whose name remain anonymous narrated the story of how they are not counted by the council. With eyes full of tears, she stated that they are being forced to elect during the election campaign but after election no one looks after them.
“We came here to work so we can feed our young ones, but this is what happening to us as if we don’t elect. I wonder why we are worthy during election but useless after”, she narrated.
The farmers appealed for at least two to three months before the municipality cleared the land in order to harvest their crops, which include maize, nuts, mutete and beans.
Otijiwarongo Worship Mayor Gottlieb Shivute says farmers at Camp Five were already notified in September last year not to fence off or plow on the land, which is earmarked for development purposes.
“This process has started off with our technical team clearing up the area, then finding the gardeners erecting gardens and fencing it off with bushes, which agitates the officials to take that route, demolishing the fences that were put up by the gardeners.”
With the question if the farmers will continue with their agricultural, due to those that have crops in, Shivute said there’s no need for them to continue, anytime their crops will also be cleared off. Adding that, their comments about the story that they were told to continue with farming this year has no truth on it.
“They were told since last year through council’s office but they continue, therefore our municipality personnel have no time to wait them (farmers) to delay our progress”, he added.
Camp Five is reserved for extensions 26, 27, and 28, which together are expected to accommodate about 2,000 plots.
The municipality has a waiting list of 4,702 plots.
Eviction of those occupying municipal land for unapproved farming or dwelling purposes will continue, said the worship mayor.