Omusati Regional Council is set to construct a tomato processing plant in the vicinity of Epalela in Onesi Constituency, Councillor Gerhard Shiimi revealed this week.
Presenting the regional budget motivation speech in the National Council on Tuesday, Shiimi said to date, an amount of N$1.1 million has already been spent on the feasibility study, which has shown that the proposed facility is viable.
An additional N$1.1 million is currently being spent on the construction of a guardhouse and fencing.
According to the Elim Constituency councillor, the rationale behind the proposed plant is to create job opportunities, add value to local produce and to ensure that wastage of tomatoes at Epalela comes to an end.
Shiimi also highlighted the challenges faced by the region, such as the deepening of Olushandja Water Reservoir (Etaka), saying it is high time that government finds the required financial resources to deepen the reservoir.
This will boost the availability of sufficient water within the region and also to supply to neighbouring regions.
Olushandja dam on the Etaka River is about 17-km long and approximately two kilometres wide in places. It has a capacity to carry thousands of cubic water annually.
According to Shiimi, a total of 67 local farmers, known as the Olushandja Horticulture Association, are farming along the reservoir and make significant contributions towards food security in the region.
“The reservoir also provides water to Oshana, Ohangwena and Oshikoto regions,” he said.
Another challenge, he said, is the fact that Uuvudhiya Water Canal is current filled with sand. He said if in operation the Uuvudhiya Water Canal could alleviate the burden of water shortage, which currently poses a major threat to the viability and implementation of the green scheme.
“The canal is currently abandoned and it is understood that is no longer in the asset registry of the relevant authority, such as Namwater,” he said.
Shiimi says another issue faced by the region is that people in the region still do not have basic national documents, such as birth certificates and ID’s. He said one of the reasons is that people have to travel long distances to obtain such documents.
“People have to travel 80 kilometres from Etayi Constituency to Outapi in order to get national documents,” he said. Likewise, he noted, people from Otamanzi Constituency have to travel 80 kilometres to Outapi to obtain key identification documents.