Iyambo dismayed by Etunda

Budget cuts have affected green scheme production

12 December 2016 | Agriculture

The vice-president, Dr Nickey Iyamba has expressed his dismay with the levels of production after a visit to the Etunda Green Scheme Irrigation Project near Ruacana in Omusati Region last week Thursday.

Etunda is the largest government farm in the green scheme programme in terms of hectares and volumes of production.

The land is 1 200 hectares in size but less than half, 450, is being utilised. As from observations made by the vice-president, the irrigation project consists of 15 centre-pivot lands, but only five are in use.

For the remaining ten, infrastructure and facilities such as irrigation materials and water pipes are unused, amounting public resources wasting.

The project is divided into two segments of 450 hectares each with commercial farmers using the 15 centre-pivot facilities which cover 30 hectares each.

There are 71 spaces for small-scale farmers which consist of three hectares each and ten spaces for medium-scale farmers also consisting of three hectares each.

Farmers use to receive vouchers from the Agribank to buy inputs such as fertilisers, chemical and seeds, but after the budget cuts, this was halted and many farmers simply stopped production.

This affected both the commercial and small-scale farmers.

“Only the maize fields impress me. Half of the land here is not in use. I think we made a mistake when we cut the agriculture ministry''s budget.

“There is no money to produce any food in government''s green scheme irrigation projects,” Iyambo said.

In October this year, finance minister Calle Schlettwein announced national budget cuts from N$67 billion to N$4.9 billion in his mid-term budget. The cut has severely limited spending.

“This visit was a lesson learned that we were not supposed to cut green scheme irrigation funds.

“We are in the grip of a drought and we are not producing at maximum capacity. We are going to use the money we have to buy drought relief from other countries to feed our people.

“Remember that the money we are spending on drought relief cannot be recovered as the aid is distributed for free,” Iyambo continued.

The secretary for the small scale farmers in Etunda, Petrus Daniel told Namibian Sun that since Agribank stopped providing vouchers, farming became impossible for them.

“We cannot afford chemicals and pesticides. Some of the farmers gave up and those of us still farming are finding it difficult to maintain our fields.

“Our products are affected by pests that we do not know where they come from and we are finding it difficult to control them,” Daniel said.

ILENI NANDJATO

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