Query: Minister of Poverty Eradication, please clarify to us why people are being asked to pay N$2 when collecting food at the food banks. That’s unfair, those people are poor already.
Response: The ministry would like to categorically make it clear the food items distributed by the ministry through the food bank are not for sale and is not to be sold to the beneficiaries. Furthermore, there is no fee to be paid by those collecting the food. The ministry therefore requests the public to report such incidences to the ministry and provide all details thereof.
Query: Government should install prepaid water meters for all the pensioners.
Response: The aim of the social grants is to assist elders with their basic needs. Thus, we advocate for the alleviation of pressure of water utilities on elders. Efforts by municipalities, such as Otjiwarongo, in introducing a subsidy policy for elders is highly encouraged. This is line with the proposed intervention in the blueprint, which requires interventions to address indebtedness of elders or vulnerable persons with regards to municipal services.
Lot Ndamanomhata, chief public relations officer, Ministry of Poverty Eradication and Social Welfare, E-mail: Lot.Ndamanomhata@mpesw.gov.na
Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry
Query: Why did the Ministry Of Agriculture, Water and Forestry establish the Tree Planting Project?
Response: With efforts to become a food-producing nation, the Tree Planting project serves as a feasibility study to test soil in different parts of the country that plant fruit trees. The project currently has several employees that supply fruit to the Agro-Marketing Trade Agency (AMTA) Ongwediva.
Immediately after Independence, Namibia devised the Forestry Strategic Plan document. The plan addressed what is to be done to run the forestry sector efficiently with clear aims and objectives. Amongst others, it states that one of the purposes of the forestry policy is to “Increase the yield of benefits of the national woodlands through research and development, application of silvicultural practices, protection and promotion of requisite economic support projects”.
Another important strategic intent is “to implement innovative land-use strategies, including multiple use conservation areas, protected areas, agro-forestry and a variety of other approaches designed to yield forestry global benefits.”
Hence, tree-planting has been one of the key activities of the forestry directorate. Tree seedling nurseries have been established and are run at all forestry offices.
In 2001, the founding president, Dr Sam Nujoma, directed that the saline grasslands, known locally as “the Ombuga’, should be subjected to afforestation with appropriate species of trees to increase tree cover in this semi-arid to arid environment, which has traditionally been used for grazing in the Oshana, Oshikoto and Omusati regions.
The directive was to different stakeholders under the leadership of the then Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Rural Development to work together to plant trees in the said area. As a result, a Tree Planting Project was initiated in 2003 by MAWF with the main objective to carry out tree planting trial studies to assess the viability of planting trees in open grassland in the three regions.
Query: What are the success measures that indicate that the tree planting project progress is on track and if the objectives of the project have been met?
Response: Tree planting is progressing well, even though trees are more reliant on regular watering and good rainfall. Over the past 15 years, several orchards and woodlots were successfully established. Tree planting activities increased forest/vegetation cover; produce fruits consumed by the public and generate government revenue.
These orchards provide fruit tree seeds, which have been distributed to government tree nurseries. Although there are significant cases of success, tree planting in dry arid, poor soil conditions is not a cheap practice. It requires a lot of labour and water. The absence of reliable water sources in the area poses a challenge, as in many places we are only able to use purified water supplied by NamWater at a very high cost.
Query: What are the ministry’s plans with the orchards?
The ministry will continue increasing the area under afforestation.
It will ensure that tree-planting activities are promoted in many parts of the country.
Communities will be given a technical assistance in tree planting and tree care.
The ministry will develop management plans to be used to manage these orchards.
The ministry will enter into partnership with other institutions, such as AMTA, for the selling and processing of fruits.
The ministry will also consider an option of entering into public-private partnership to involve private business people or institutions to manage the orchards as viable businesses.
The ministry will use these orchards as demonstration sites when training farmers and other fruit tree producers.
Query: How many are these orchards in total? What is the production level and how many people are employed under this project together?
Response: Since its inception, 34 tree-planting plots have been established, covering 271 hectares (ha.) Approximately 80,000 trees have been planted in the said plots. Fruits produced from these orchards are as follow in 2014/15 = 19 tonnes (mangoes =13 tonnes, guavas=4.1 tonnes, lemon=1.5 tonnes, Orange=0.24 tons), generated an amount of N$89,423. In 2015/16 = 15 tonnes (mangoes =10.7 tons, guavas=0.72 tonnes, lemon=2.94 tonnes, orange=0.6 tonnes) and an amount of N$65,993 was generated.
During the year 2016/17 = 25 tonnes (mangoes =17.3 tonnes, guavas=2 tonnes, lemon=5.2 tonnes, orange=0.73 tonnes) were produced and an amount of N$120,405.00 was generated. Etunda Orchard in Omusati Region is believed be the biggest and has employed 43 contract workers plus 2 community mobilisers (supervisors) and covers 60 ha.
Although the project only supplied fruits to AMTA once in 2013, the project sells its products to the public, the forestry offices and at open market places in the northern regions. Therefore, in total the project employed 124 people (contract workers and administrative staff) (57 females and 67 males) who were based at different sites.
The Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry would like to encourage individual farmers to plant more trees on their farm lands and assist with resources such as water supply infrastructure, for the project to achieve its intended objectives.
The project sells fruits to the public, thus creating employment, especially to vendors who sell fruits in open markets. The ministry will also enhance promotion of the establishment of orchards at individual level.
Margaret Kalo, public relations officer, Ministry Of Agriculture, Water and Forestry, E-mail address: Margaret.Kalo@mawf.gov.na