A staggering N$5.4 billion will be required from the government and private sector over the next 14 years if the target of putting 27 000 hectares of land under irrigation is to be achieved in terms of Vision 2030.
Chairperson of the board of directors of the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry’s marketing arm, Agricultural Business Development (Agribusdev), Abraham Nehemia, made the announcement at Agribusdev’s first AGM in Windhoek on Wednesday.
Confirming the tough road ahead, Minister of Agriculture, Water and Forestry John Mutorwa as keynote speaker said that following persistent droughts in Namibia and the rest of SADC it is becoming an increasingly and indispensably unavoidable must for the country to do just that.
In light of the challenge posed by recurrent droughts there is a need to scale up financial investments in the agricultural and water sectors to improve and expand on the 11 500 hectares currently under irrigation.
Mutorwa says if the 27 000 hectares under the green scheme projects are eventually developed, the project will provide about 40 000 direct jobs and the current level of 200 000 tonnes of cereal for local consumption would be met.
“This would mean achieving food security, full import substitution of cereals and relieve pressure from urban centres, “ he noted.
He instructed the immediate development of the Katima/Liselo green scheme and Zone green scheme upon approval of the ministry’s budget. “We need to work and sweat to earn our food and therefore our lives. Let us all pull together,” he told a conference hall packed with stakeholders and role players in the crop planting industry.
According to Nehemia, four of the farms under direct Agribusdev management (Shikondo, Shadikongoro, Hardap and Kalimbeza) posted profits in the first financial year, while two farms under Agribusdev’s control (Etunda and Uvhungu-vhungu) posted losses.
Figures released at the AGM show that 2 877 people were employed by the green schemes in 2014/15. At these, 315 males and 163 females were employed permanently, while 777 males and 1 622 females were employed temporarily. Managing director of Agribusdev, Petrus Uugwanga noted that dry spells in 2013/14 dashed the prospects of good harvests for many producers. “The national maize production dropped from 72 438 tonnes to just 367 360 tonnes.
“Of this, some 30 800 tonnes were derived from green schemes.”
He emphasised that Agribusdev has in its first year through the green scheme programme put Namibia on a sound and stable footing towards the national food security goal.
Nehemia said the long-outstanding human resources issues have been resolved and the focus of Agribusdev will now be towards physical and financial performance and to provide food security in line with the goals of Vision 2030 and NDP4.