Namibia asks SA to release water

The dangerously low water level of the Orange River could have a devastating impact on Namibia's production of table grapes.

22 February 2019 | Agriculture

The Namibian government has requested South Africa to release enough water from its dams to reach the lower Orange River.

This was said by agriculture minister Alpheus !Naruseb during a recent visit to Desert Fruit Farm in the //Karas Region to witness the harvesting of Khalas dates at the plantation. The Orange River basin is shared by Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia and South Africa and the catchment receives rain in summer.

“In years of drought the river may run dry along the common border with South Africa – a situation we have been experiencing in the last three years. To mitigate this situation the government, through the ministry, requested South Africa to release enough water to reach the lower Orange,” !Naruseb said.

He said in order to secure the availability of water right through the year, it is necessary to store the summer runoff in dams for later use. Water is then released from the dams to meet the downstream demand.

“The farmers along the common border share in the security of the availability of water from the dams built to regulate the water flow of the Orange River.”

Namibian Sun recently reported that the dangerously low water level of the Orange River could have a devastating impact on Namibia's production of table grapes, an important export product earning hundreds of millions in foreign exchange.

Namibian grape farmers along the Orange River suspect that increased water use upstream by South African grape farmers was the cause of the lower part of the river running dry. The Namibian farmers claim that the lower Orange River is not supposed to run dry as there is enough water in the Orange-Vaal River system following good rains in its catchment area.

!Naruseb further said that Namibia's exports of horticulture products consist mainly of table grapes, dates, tomatoes and carrots. These products are mainly exported to EU markets.

He said the country intended to strengthen compliance with sanitary and phytosanitary standards in agriculture. That would include updating the current registration procedures for pesticides, fertilisers and feeds.

“Therefore the agro-chemicals registered for any plants and plant products must be in line with the chemicals listed [as safe] by the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations to ensure food safety for all consumers.”

!Naruseb further said the ministry supported grape and date exports to the EU, Kenya, South Africa and the United Arab Emirates through the issuance of phytosanitary certificates after doing field inspections.



ELLANIE SMIT

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