N‡aJaqna plan revisited

The conservancy has been able to stave off a proposal to set up more farming units, which it feared might have led to more land invasions.

13 September 2019 | Ministries

The ministry of land reform has revised its plan to establish nine farming units in the N‡aJaqna conservancy in the Tsumkwe West area, and settled on only one test farm.

The ministry had originally intended to set up the nine units, measuring 2 500 hectares each, as part of a N$20 million project for agricultural commercialisation under its Programme for Communal Land Development (PCLD).

The idea, however, faced heavy resistance from the local San community under the leadership of the conservancy's chairperson, Sarah Zungu, who felt that it would benefit only a few at the expense of others.

The intention under the PCLD was to keep eight of the nine farms unfenced to be rented out for the first five years to provide income to the San communities, who would then take over the units after that period.

Under the original plan one of the farms would have been used as a model farm. A community tourism project and community garden were also part of this plan.

Zungu had earlier questioned whether the proposed farms could be rented out successfully, and argued that there were no mechanisms to ensure rent would be paid and no guarantee that lessees would not start erecting more illegal fences in the area.

The N‡aJaqna conservancy had proposed during the consultation process in June 2018 that the PCLD project should instead consider investing N$10 million for 10 new boreholes at 10 San villages, and that N$2.6 million be spent on solar power infrastructure in the villages. It also requested assistance in the setting up of community gardens.

Another proposal from the conservancy was for a N$6.8 million living museum and campsite. At the time the two existing living museums had failed and the Omatako campsite was abandoned.



New plans

The ministry's spokesperson, Chrispin Matongela, this week said the nine farms were “just a proposal” during the local level participatory planning phase.

He acknowledged that the ministry could not come to an agreement on its original idea with the stakeholders. He said the local community was therefore not part of the ministry's investment plan.

Matongela said the one model farm agreed upon would be developed and used to train the San community of the Aasvoëlnes area in farming.

Also to be developed is one tourist centre, three boreholes and a garden, all of which are estimated to cost N$14 million.

The actual cost estimates are not yet finalised because the ministry is yet to engage engineers to design specifications, and tender documents still have to be prepared.

“Only after the engineers are done will the ministry know how much the infrastructure will cost, but for now we only have rough cost estimates,” Matongela said.

CATHERINE SASMAN

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