Kavango East N$141m dairy farm a white elephant

Project halted in 2016

28 July 2021 | Local News

Kenya Kambowe







RUNDU

It’s been nine years since the revamp of the N$141 million Uvhungu Vhungu dairy farm on the outskirts of Rundu commenced, but the project remains a white elephant. No activity – apart from the overgrown bush and the wearing out of equipment – has taken place.

Apart from dairy products, the aim of the project was a number of job opportunities and economic benefits for locals; however, this is yet to come to fruition, with some residents calling the project a “far-fetched dream” in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic.

National leaders who visit the Kavango East Region usually take a trip to the farm to urge that the project should be completed, but things return to business as usual when they leave the region.

In 2014, former president Hifikepunye Pohamba visited the farm, while current vice-president Nangolo Mbumba paid a visit in 2019, yet the farm continues to deteriorate as far as infrastructure is concerned.

Meanwhile, in 2019, New Era quoted late Agribusdev managing director Petrus Uugwanga as saying the farm’s operations would be leased out, but two years down the line, this hasn’t happened either.

When contacted for comment, the agriculture ministry said there are plans to complete the project through a public-private partnership.

Ministry spokesperson Jona Musheko said the project was halted in 2016 due to the inadequate budget to green schemes.

“There are currently no development activities happening on the farm, but there are plans underway to complete the project through the Public Private Partnership Initiative by involving private investors in the implementation process,” he said.

Background

In 2014, Nampa reported the second phase of the reconstruction of the Uvhungu-Vhungu dairy farm was well on track. The first phase of the rebuilding started in 2012.

The farm was closed by the agriculture ministry in November 2009, resulting in the suspension of the supply of fresh and cultured milk, butter and cream to hospitals and some schools in the two Kavango regions.

The closure resulted in the 150 cows used on the farm – which at the time were in terrible condition due to farm mismanagement – being relocated to the Mashare Agricultural Development Institute, 50 kilometres east of Rundu.

The third phase of the project, which is located on 280 hectares of land, involves the construction of a milking parlour and milk extraction section.

The project was hailed for creating employment for skilled and unskilled locals, with a total of 176 jobs created during the first two phases of renovation.

[email protected]