By Wezi Tjaronda
The Tandjieskoppe green scheme project has been scaled down by 240 hectares due to the rising cost of materials.
In 2004 the Government secured a N$360-million loan from the Arab Bank for Agricultural Development (BADEA), African Development Bank and Opec to develop the 920-hectare project, which is expected to boost the economy of the south and Noordoewer in particular.
The project will now operate on 720 hectares.
About 260 farmers in Noordoewer in the Karas Region were supposed to be settled on two hectares of land each to grow dates, grapes and vegetables. The land was also to be used as collateral security for them to acquire loans from Agribank.
But due to the increase in cost of materials arising from massive construction in South Africa, which is preparing for the FIFA World Cup in 2010, the cost of the project has soared.
Initially, the project cost N$360 million, an amount that has since risen to N$500 million.
Deputy Director: Agriculture Engineering, in the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry, Tertius Basson, told New Era recently that the total development cost had increased so much that the loan would not cater for the whole project.
He said the Ministry advised that the project be scaled down to suit the available funds because the loan did not cater for the increases.
The Ministry will next month finalise tender documents for the construction of a pump station, electricity infrastructure, irrigation, roads, school and runway within the next three months.
Basson said high demand for construction material has created a shortage especially of cement and pushed up the prices.
The Ministry even suspects it will receive fewer applications from South African companies for the tenders because of the amount of work in that country.
“Construction companies there are so occupied,” said Basson.
Meanwhile, the Kalimbeza Rice Project is up and running after the trial period began with planting of rice seedlings.
The project suffered a setback after 12 Vietnamese, who were expected to come to Namibia as part of a government-to-government agreement with Vietnam, failed to pitch up to assist in the rice production late last year.
Basson said the project has secured an expert from Unam with whose assistance the project planted rice seedlings on one-and-a-half hectares.
With the rising water levels in the Zambezi River that has flooded some areas in the Caprivi Region, the project is unable to transplant seedlings and is now doing direct seeding.