Windhoek-The Khomas Regional Governor Laura McLeod-Katjirua has strongly spoken out against resettled farmers acquiring farming units just to let them stand idle.
Equally, the governor cautioned resettlement farmers in Khomas Region to take seriously their farming activities, saying she will not take lightly farmers in the region not adhering to lease agreement conditions.
One such typical example in the Khomas Region is the farm Ongombo West that paints a gloomy picture of resettled people sitting idly and desperately awaiting government handouts, instead of farming on the fertile soil under their feet.
Although the farm used to be Namibia’s only floral exporter to the European market and a generator of employment for 15 families, Ongombo West has deteriorated into a retirement home inhabited mostly by destitute families seeking food handouts from the government.
This farm once produced cattle and flowers that were exported to Europe, generating much-needed foreign exchange.
“Note that you got this farm to farm and not to sublease the farm or let the farm lay idle without any visible farming activities,” she cautioned.
She revealed that the Ministry of Land Reform through its programme for post-settlement support has rehabilitated infrastructure on resettlement farms in the region to the tune of N$15.9 million.
This development aims to ensure proper control of livestock movements and grazing to promote sustainable rangeland management.
During the period under review, she revealed, a total number of 71 farming units were advertised in the local media inviting any interested Namibians countrywide to apply for consideration for resettlement under the government’s resettlement programme.
Of the above-mentioned farming units, she said, Khomas only contributed one farm with two farming units.
Although there were only two farming units demarcated in Khomas, she explained, the Khomas Regional Resettlement Committee’s recommendations to the Commission managed to secure 11 applications, which were approved and allocated by the Minister of Land Reform, Utoni Nujoma.
Equally, she said the Ministry of Land Reform came up with an initiative to ensure that allocated farmers are trained in basic farming techniques prior to physical occupation of their farming units.
This initiative aims to equip farmers with basic skills and knowledge in farming, so that they can be able to farm sustainably.
Additionally, she said Khomas Reginal Resettlement Committee received 4,040 applications.
“The received applications were considered by the committee in order to select and recommend suitable applicants to the minister through the Land Reform Advisory Commission. As the chairperson of the Khomas Regional Resettlement Committee it was practically impossible to recommend all applicants – as the demand for resettlement in terms of the number of applications received, compared to the number of farming units advertised, is not equitable,” she noted.
Further, she said, the Ministry of Land Reform is among only four line ministries that have managed to decentralize its functions to the Khomas Regional Council through the government’s decentralization policy.
The decentralization process aims to bring services closer to the people for the enhancement of improved service delivery.
She noted that on September 21, 2016, Khomas witnessed the handover of the Ministry of Land Reform’s functions to the Khomas Regional Council.
Moreover, she added, the ministry’ Khomas regional staff component is currently under the management and supervision of the Khomas Regional Council.
“The transfer of relevant resources including induction training is current and ongoing and at an advanced stage. The induction and training are part of capacity building aimed to ensure that regional councils are equipped with knowledge and skills pertaining to relevant legislation and policies, to make the delegation phase a success,” she maintained.
Therefore, she applauded the prevailing mutual coordination, understanding and cooperation among the Ministry of Land Reform, the Ministry of Urban and Rural Development, and the Khomas Regional Council towards ensuring that all legal requirements for decentralization are adhered to.