Minister of Agriculture, Water and Forestry John Mutorwa says the cost of electricity is excessively high and wants government-owned irrigation projects to make use of the sun to generate power for use at the various green scheme projects.
Mutorwa was speaking during his visit at government-owned Shadi Irrigation Project at Shadikongoro village in Mukwe Constituency in Kavango East last week.
He said over the years the projects have complained about the high cost of power and noted that the ministry of agriculture has taken the matter up with NORED several times, but he does not think they will succeed in convincing NORED to lower its tariffs.
Mutorwa said that the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry – through its AgriBusDev company – should do a study on the use of solar power at government-owned irrigation projects.
“AgriBusDev should do a study at all our green schemes and see what is it that we must do. I’m not saying that at one can replace everything, but do a proper study at Kalimbeza, for example, [to determine] which part we can use solar and achieve what we want. At Shadi the same, at Shitemo the same and other irrigation projects, like Etunda, and so on.”
“I will include it in my report,” he said. According to the minister, once AgriBusDev has done the study it will direct the ministry on where best to use solar power and how.
“That study will then inform us that, yes, use NORED power for this, but for other things maybe solar can work. I mean we have taken this matter up with NORED several times and I don’t think we are going to succeed, because they are also just doing business, but when they see that these people can to certain extent survive without them, then maybe they will do something about their cost,” he said.
“But AgriBusDev must do a study, as it’s very important, because we cannot just haphazardly do it, so do a study and that will inform us,” he added.
Mutorwa was also told that the electric facilities are old and need to be replaced, as they are hindering progress at the farm. He was further informed of three old pivots that need to be replaced for crops to get sufficient water to produce a high yield, as of recent the pivots distributed insufficient water, which results in low yields.
Mutorwa was also informed of the irrigation system used by small scale farmers that is also giving problems and needs to be replaced with a better irrigation system. He was furthermore told that Shadi Irrigation Project has a problem with the distance to the market to get vegetables to the buyers on time before it is damaged and thus the project will need a freezer room to store the fresh produce in.
Shadi project manager Daniel Marais said the project needs its fence to be upgraded and repaired and the needs facilities for grading, packaging, sorting and storing, as well as implements for vegetable production, precision farming and upgrading of electricity systems.
Mutorwa was in the Kavango East the whole of last week for an inspection visit, where he visited government green schemes and other projects under his ministry and was briefed on the progress and challenges the various projects face.