Agriculture, Water and Forestry Minister John Mutorwa says if and when any specific information related to policy about activities at the Musese Green Scheme Irrigation Project is required, direct contact should be made with him.
In a statement the minister told New Era that he came to the decision because “distorted and misleading information was being circulated in the print media”. He said the media has been disseminating distorted information for a considerable period of time, while the community has and continues to be the victim of destructive, marauding and dangerous elephants, who have destroyed crops and infrastructure on a numerous occasions.
Mutorwa says those trying to make contact with him on policy should initially liaise with the AGRIBUSDEV managing director, the acting PS of agriculture, water and forestry, the deputy minister and eventually with himself. “It has also come to the MAWFs attention that numerous individuals, some pretending to be GRN officials do pay visits to Musese Irrigation Project. Some of these uninvited visitors, ostensibly go there simply to intimidate the project manager and staff for reasons known only to themselves. The MAWF shall no longer tolerate such behaviour!” Mutorwa cautioned.
Mutorwa further said as the line minister he personally witnessed the wanton destruction of crops and infrastructure by elephants at Musese and surrounding areas. “I also made numerous public statements about the said matter and the regional councillor of the constituency where the project is located has done that and members of parliament have vocally done the same,” Mutorwa added.
Last year two elephants were shot. The first elephant was shot by officials from the Ministry of Environment and Tourism and the second by Tulio Parreira, the lease-owner of the Musese GRN Irrigation Project, who reportedly also shot a third elephant on the project grounds last week. The farm is situated some 70 km east of Nkurenkuru in the Kavango West Region.
Last week Minister of Environment Pohamba Shifeta said Musese Irrigation Project has not been granted any environmental management clearance certificate from the ministry, which is in direct violation of the law.“I went into the issue deeper and found out this year that there is no environmental clearance certificate at all,” Shifeta said last week.
“If there was an environmental clearance certificate we could have helped them to draw up what we call an environmental management plan, where we could deal with the issue of elephants. They know very well that they are [located] in a habitat of elephants. It’s a migration [route] for elephants, so there is no way you can retaliate against the elephants,” he said.
Minister Mutorwa advises that for any information related to the Musese project the MAWF should be approached and not the project management, as Parreira only leases the farm in terms of the provisions of the Green Scheme Policy.
“I have decided to issue this clarificatory statement and this is to certify and clearly state that Musese Green Scheme Project, like numerous others elsewhere in Namibia, is a GRN-owned project under direct mandate of the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry (MAWF).
“The main objective of GRN Green Scheme Projects is and remains: food production for human beings,” Mutorwa told New Era.
On the basis of the agreement entered into and signed with the MAWF, Tulio Parreira currently manages and operates the farm as a service provider. “Parreira, using his own financial resources to produce food at Musese has been very productively active and is successfully operating the project,” Mutorwa said.
Mutorwa added that his ministry is satisfied with Parreira’s overall performance. “Everything is being done, particularly with regard to food production, within the letter and spirit of the Green Scheme Policy and the signed agreement.” he said.