By Chrispin Inambao WINDHOEK A highly-innovative agriculture scheme bankrolled by KfW – a German development bank – to upgrade small-scale farmland into semi-commercial farms through fencing in Caprivi appears to have stalled due to infighting among some individuals. Plans have been afoot for some time now to assist communal farmers to commercialize their small-scale operations by developing subsistence plots into semi-commercial land under the project called “Infrastructure Development Related to Land Reform.” With N$37.6 million sourced from KfW through GTZ, a development agency, the Ministry of Lands and Resettlement through the Caprivi Regional Council advised regional councillors, traditional authorities and communal farmers to advise the lands office at Rundu on how it could send a contractor to drill boreholes in the targeted areas. Chrispin Matongela, a spokesman in the Ministry of Lands and Resettlement, says the N$37.6 million would be used in all the regions to identify underutilized land, to undertake a needs assessment by gender, to develop non-freehold land and to install fences and boreholes. The money would be used to conduct surveying and mapping of non-freehold land. Kingsley Mikatazo Simandi, the Deputy Director for the North-Eastern Regions covering Caprivi and Kavango, said the ministry was supposed to start drilling before the rainy season but up to now it has still to receive a response from the beneficiary farmers. “The ball is in their court,” said Simandi, explaining why his office cannot make a move. Part of the problem is that the farmland targeted for upgrading is “encroaching on communal land in Masida Community Forestry,” said Simandi. Communal plots targeted for the ambitious, upgrading project are located in Sibbinda constituency, Linyanti constituency and a portion of Kongola constituency. Simandi says through this empowerment project, the quality of beef produced could be improved and that there could be easy market access as feeder roads are to be built. Considering the number of extended family members supported by each indigenous farmer, many people stand to benefit once this agronomic scheme is implemented. Though he could not give the figure to be allocated for upgrading communal plots at Mazoba and other settlements in Sibbinda constituency the councillor for the area Felix Mukupi says he has been informed N$2,4 million has been allocated for that area. He said he would ensure this agronomic scheme is not derailed, as he is aware this project like others before it were previously “blocked” and ended up being shelved. He feels the region with its potential to become the country’s “bread-basket” needs such schemes and he further wanted to know how far the government has proceeded with the sugar cane plantation in Caprivi and other projects mooted under the green scheme. Mukupi reiterated his view that the region despite its potential now trails behind other regions such as Kavango in terms of road infrastructure and other developments. Part of the problem could be the electorate that seems resigned to its fate and seems content with mediocrity and it does not take its representatives to account for failure. “I appeal to the electorate not to be afraid of their leaders because we are there to serve them and not the other way round,” Mukupi told New Era.
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