Etunda fodder plant nears completion

As a drought mitigation measure, the government is currently installing a hydroponic fodder production system at the Etunda Green Scheme project, which is planned to be completed end of March 2020. Agribusdev managing director Petrus Uugwanga said the fodder plant will cost around N$1.6 million to complete, and it is being financed through the Office of the Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund. The fund was established entirely with public contributions and does not receive any budgetary support.

Despite the good rains received countrywide this year, Namibia was ravaged by persistent drought over the past years, leaving many farmers devasted. More than 41 000 cattle have died within ten months. Statistics released last year by the ministry of agriculture confirm that over 60 000 livestock, including 41 949 cattle, 10 377 sheep, 25 651 goats and 584 donkeys, have perished between October 2018 and July last year due to drought. About 312 horses have also died. Uugangwa explained fodder production, particularly that of lucerne and barley seeds, which are highly nutritional, will intensify in May or June.

“During the drought situation, we were contracted to provide fodder as urgent government intervention, and we performed fairly well from our assessment. The focus now is to build resilience so that we can be fodder secured,” he noted.

With the good rains experienced countrywide, New Era wanted to know how the overall production at the green schemes countrywide looks like. Uugwanga indicated that seeing that Namibia is on the recovery path, the production during summer will be fairly low but the country shall be in an above-average position in the winter season (May 2020) and recover fully in upcoming summer (October 2020 onwards). Green schemes across the country have been struggling financially, especially on the purchasing of production inputs, such as fertilisers, seeds and pesticides. These include the Sikondo, Shadikongoro, Shitemo, Ndonga Linena, Uvhungu-Vhungu, Musese and Etunda irrigation projects.

In this regard, Uugwanga said the situation is improving and is expected to improve significantly. He attributed such an improvement to the systematic support by government and regained confidence from input suppliers.

Equally, he said, there are contractual issues at Shitemo and Musese that significantly affect production; however, he said he is not at liberty to disclose them.

On challenges facing the Kalimbeza rice project, he said such issues are being addressed, of which one is the levelling of field and the rice colour-sorting machine to reduce manual sorting costs. He also gave an update on the progress of the tender to install a solar system at Etunda, Sikondo, Hardap, Shadikongoro and Uhvungu-Vhungu.

“The development was to be done on Built Operate and Transfer model, and the outcome on the aspect of value for money is not fully convincing. We have consulted with the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry on this aspect, seeing that the assets will eventually become the public good, and we are looking for other financing options before making a final decision,” he confirmed.

He further said they are considering solar to Kalimbeza, of which the funding is secured. He noted this intervention was discussed last month, and their technical team is currently working on the necessary documentation on the issue. He maintained the issue of Nored disconnecting power supplies to green schemes in the Kavango and Zambezi regions, due to electricity non-payments, would remain a challenge in the meantime until mitigation measures are secured.

New Era also wanted to know what Agribusdev is doing to ensure the history of workers going months without payment, especially in the South at Orange Irrigation Project (Orip) at Aussenkehr, does not repeat itself.

“This was never a deliberate move but rather inevitable and unfortunate; we are pushing for [a] better option. The business plan before our board for consideration will guide us to a lasting common solution possible,” Uugangwa remarked. –