The Minister of Agriculture, Water and Forestry, John Mutorwa has ordered all government green scheme projects that do not rely on rain-fed agriculture, but on irrigation methods, to “put all hectares under production”.
This, the minister said, is to mitigate the unknown consequences of the severe drought Namibia currently faces.
Mutorwa gave the directive on Monday when he was visiting Musese green scheme project, which has been affected by elephants roaming around the land and ruining crop fields.
Mutorwa said that starting from the Orange River, going to Etunda in Omusati Region, Musese and Sikondo in Kavango West Region, Uvungu-vungu, Mashare, Ndonga Linena, Shitemo, Shadikongoro in Kavango East Region and Kalimbeza green scheme project in Zambezi Region, the projects must put all land under production for the country to have food in case the rains do not fall at all.
“I don’t want to see hectares standing idle. At least we have water from the Kavango, Zambezi, the Kunene and Orange rivers. We can plan what to plant and particularly regarding maize, I want us to double our hectares because we don’t know the prospects for next year,” Mutorwa said.
Mutorwa said he sees a very bleak future in terms of food production if the drought continues into 2016. “Therefore, green scheme projects must do something drastic to increase production.
I think we can do it, let us increase the production of maize and vegetables, and put what you have under irrigation, as it is the only way that we can at least be sure that as we are struggling our people can still have something to eat.”
According to Mutorwa, the drought of 2015 is not only affecting Namibia, it is affecting most SADC countries as well, including South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe and Zambia.
“In South Africa there is a terrible drought. We heard their government is trying its best, so the importation of food from the SADC region is also constrained because all of us are affected. Hence my appeal and my directive, which must be implemented through AGRIBUSDEV working together with all the project managers, that all our green scheme projects double their hectares they put under production,” he said.
He also wants the acceleration of projects that need to be expanded and developed, like the Liselo project and Katima farm in the Zambezi Region.
“If the rains do not come we should not just cry, we must make use of the available water resources that we share with other countries. Obviously use it to produce food.
That is the only way and that is the appeal I would like to make to the colleagues managing the green scheme projects. The lifeline of our people depends on this projects, there are no two ways about it,” Mutorwa said.
Musese green scheme project is a government project being leased for a period of 25 years to Tulio Perreira.