Parliamentary probe blames Agribusdev for green schemes’ collapse
An extensive list of problems experienced on several of the country’s green schemes have been pointed out in a report tabled in Parliament.
The report, which was compiled by a National Council outreach programme during a visit to Zambezi, Otjozondjupa and Kavango East last October, said food security in Kavango East was compromised because government green schemes had become significantly less productive.
“Most parts of farming land were lying idle as a result of lack of budget [and] broken equipment.”
It said since AgibusDev took over the Kalimbeza rice project, business operations had been negatively affected.
According to the report, the project used to export rice to Zambia as well as sell it locally, but stopped doing so because produce was no longer sufficient.
“Small-scale farmers have since left, because business was not operating as usual.”
It added that the farm did not manage to plant during 2019/2020 financial year due to a lack of funds.
The main challenge at the farm is the water system, according to the report. Since 2020, it had only one running pump.
During a visit, the report noted the farm had six tractors, but only three were in good working condition.
Meanwhile, on the Uvhungu Vhungu irrigation scheme and dairy project, the report noted that the operation was not going well because it was operating on rules set by Agribusdev.
Since decisions pertaining to the operation of the farm were made in Windhoek, it heavily delayed operations on the ground, it said.
“There is no hard cash or access that can be used to procure materials that might be needed in an emergency such as for maintenance of machines on the farm, buying of pesticides, etc.”
The normal procurement process took too long and by the time the inputs arrive, the season is already over, it added.
Furthermore, it said tractors purchased from Brazil were the wrong size and their parts are not available in Namibia.
“Sometimes the head office decides to procure materials that were not recommended by the farm manger.”
At the Ndonga Linena green scheme, which is also government-owned, “there are two irrigation pump stations, but only one is functional”, the report noted.
At the time of the visit, most tractors needed new tyres but there was no money to procure them, while farm equipment maintenance was also a challenge due to a lack of funds.
According to the report, there were supposed to be 27 small-scale and mid-scale farmers, but not a single mid-scale farmer was occupying the farming units.
At the Shadikongoro green scheme, management confirmed that no production was taking place. The fields were uncultivated, despite there being enough production inputs to plant 132 hectare of maize, the report said.
However, all of these inputs were in storerooms - some expired and some on the brink of expiration. Furthermore, the servicing and repair of tractors was halted by Agribusdev due to uncertainties regarding procurement procedures.