Namibia confident of green scheme projects
Windhoek – The Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry has expressed confidence in its eleven Green Scheme Projects saying that it has the capacity to feed the country if a drought situation arises.
This comes as officials are still predicting that Namibia might face a similar drought like the one which hit the country in 2013 and this has prompted the government to act by organising a drought conference that will be held from May 11 to 15, 2015.
The conference will be facilitated by the Ministry of Environment and Tourism under the theme, “Enhancing resilience to drought events on the African continent.”
However, while the officials have moved quickly, Agricultural Business Development Agency (AgriBusDev) Administrative Assistant Nadine Pickering told The Southern Times that the Green Scheme projects are ready for the drought and said the projects are not just capable of providing food for local consumption but for commercial purposes across the Southern African Development Community (SADC).
“These projects will benefit the entire country in terms of employment, food security, value addition and technological advancement. To an extent the SADC region as well, because we can export fresh produce to other countries,” she said.
Pickering said in a drought situation, the green schemes will allocate the largest land to produce maize and mahangu.
However, she said that while the communities where these projects are located welcome them because of the cheap produce and job opportunities, there are challenges.
“There have always been an exponential increase in the costs of production such as electricity and inputs cost (fertiliser), also the financial needs vary from project to project depending on the physical size, type of crops and special skills required,” she said.
The statistics seen by The Southern Times showed the projects were creating meaningful employment.
As of December 2014, the schemes employed approximately 3000 workers, permanent and seasonal.
However, seasonal workers are more than the permanent ones.
“The aim of these projects is really just to produce food, in order to make a meaningful contribution to the national agenda of food security. The Green Scheme is ready at all times to respond to the domestic food security as our production is not rain dependent but irrigation based,” said Pickering.
AgriBusDev was established in 2012 to oversee the development and management of the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry’s green scheme irrigation projects, with the overall objective of ensuring food security and self-sufficiency for Namibia.
Some of the green scheme projects include Shitemo, Mashare, Ndonga Linena, Kalimbeza National Rice Project, Musese, Shadikongoro, Etunda, and Uvungu-Vungu.
The government is also developing new projects – the Liselo Green Scheme Project in Zambezi Region and Zone Green Scheme Project in the Kavango West Region.
Although government has yet to make an official statement regarding drought, some countries have started to donate food.
Last month, Nigeria donated 300 tonnes of rice, 700 tonnes of maize and three tonnes of fish fillets to Namibia as part of a food consignment to help drought-stricken families.
“Disaster did not spare human beings as a number of Namibians in rural areas were classified as food insecure while the country recorded a number of deaths (in 2013) occasioned by the unavailability of food,” said Nigerian High Commissioner to Namibia, Dr Biodun Olorunfeni, at the handover ceremony.