The persistent drought which has affected different segments of life, also leaving thousands of Namibians food insecure, has not affected one of the country’s largest green schemes, the Kalimbeza rice project.
Patrick Kompeli, the manager of the project, said that Kalimbeza “has not been affected at all since the rice is grown under irrigation”.
“We draw water for irrigation from the Zambezi River. But the rice fields were partly flooded when the Zambezi River burst its banks in April,” he told New Era upon enquiry regarding the effects of drought and other issues on the project.
Further, he explained that the project has been fully functional since 2014 when it was commercialised.
Asked if the rice at any stage is to assist government in fighting food insecurity in the country, especially during the persistent drought felt by many, Kompeli said: “Yes it can, if we increase production this rice can contribute significantly to food security.”
On the challenges, he said that currently the paddy fields are not levelled properly and this makes irrigation difficult since flood irrigation is used.
He also said the pump station needs to be revamped.
According to him, almost 95 percent of rice that was planted is already harvested.
Kompeli said the harvesting started in February with the short varieties and the harvesting of the tall variety started in June after the flood subsided.
A total of 76 hectares was planted with four varieties, namely, Supa (60 tons – harvesting ongoing), Irga (80 tons), Angola (7 tons) and Basmati (10 tons).
More than 70 tons of rice from Kalimbeza, which is situated near Katima Mulilo in the Zambezi Region, were dispatched to the local market last year.
Kompeli said 11 permanent workers are employed at the farm. The number of seasonal workers hired depends on the activities but, he added, the average is 50 workers per month.
“The rice was not yet taken to the retailers due to other technical problems but this is being sorted out, and very soon our rice will be made available in some shops,” he noted. He said the rice has already been branded and packaged in 1kg and 2kg bags. Supa and Irga cost about N$11.50 per kilogramme and Angola about N$5.75.
He said the housing issue was already sorted out in 2013, with 14 houses constructed.
The rice-processing machine, he said, was acquired in 2013 and was installed in 2014 after the completion of the warehouse.
The processing machine cost N$4 million of which the purchase price, transportation and installation were all inclusive.
He also confirmed that elephants are no longer damaging the fence.
“We have never experienced a situation where elephants have destroyed the rice fields,” he said.