Windhoek – In the absence of floods this year in the north-eastern region, the Kalimbeza National Rice Project – which has over the years suffered massive losses in both yield and monetary terms – has predicted a bumper harvest.
Although the exact amount of money lost could not be quantified, the Kalimbeza National Rice Project over the years, up until 2013, has endured huge losses of its short rice varieties due to heavy floods experienced in the Zambezi Region.
The Irga and Angola short rice varieties are usually the worst affected, as they get submerged during floods resulting in poor harvests.
Patrick Kompeli, the agricultural research technician in the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry told New Era that the warehouse is currently holding 70 to 80 tonnes of raw unprocessed rice comprising three rice varieties, namely Irga, Angola and Supa.
“The harvest this year is better. The rice did well this year compared to past years when we experienced floods,” he revealed.
In 2013, the rice project only managed to harvest six hectares out of the 19 hectares put under the Irga rice variety and only half a hectare was harvested out of five hectares put under the Angola variety. The poor harvest of the short varieties (Irga and Angola) was a result of floods that severely affected the overall harvest.
However, the long rice variety, Supa, at the time survived the floods because of its height. Supa is the most preferred rice of the project, because it has the best aroma and taste and is also of a high quality compared to the Irga and Angola varieties.
Kompeli said they are currently harvesting the remaining variety of Supa, which is still in the field, and expect to finish by end of this week. The Supa variety was planted on a 20-hectare (ha) piece of land and about 22 tonnes have already been harvested.
The Irga variety this year was planted on about 15 hectares and it yielded 40 tonnes of rice.
The Angola variety this year yielded six tonnes on a five-hectare piece of land.
The project also managed to plant a new variety called Basmati on one hectare to see how it can survive and perform in the Namibian environment.
The rice variety is originally from Kenya and has yielded three tonnes.
According to the medium expenditure framework for 2015/16, Kalimbeza Rice Project has been allocated N$769 000 under crop and horticultural improvement.
Regarding the branding and marketing of the rice, Kompeli said a consultant has already been appointed and is currently doing the final touches. “Once they finish with the branding, it’s when we will start with the marketing of the rice,” he noted.
The rice project is situated 40 km north-east of Katima Mulilo in the Kabbe Constituency, and is one of the country’s green scheme projects.
It has been run jointly by the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry and the University of Namibia (Unam) since 2007, until Agricultural Business Development Agency (AGRIBUSDEV) took over around 2013, as they are responsible for the management of the entire green scheme portfolio.
by Albertina Nakale