• May 24th, 2019
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A look at why green schemes struggle to sell produce



New Era regional reporter responsible for the two Kavangos, John Muyamba had an exclusive interview with the Agribusdev managing director, Petrus Uugwanga (PU) , who oversees the operations at all government green scheme projects.  The multi-dimensional interview looks at the current issues happening at this multi-million-dollar state projects that are seemingly struggling to sell their produce to generate income for their daily operations. 

NE: New Era is informed government irrigation projects that you oversee are struggling to enter the market with their produce, they are sitting with their maize and other produce without a market, why don’t you have a market for your maize?  

PU: “As it currently stands for maize the issue is not about the available market but rather the slow uptake or absorption capacity of the local market. More so due to the fact that due to the last season bumper harvest at household level, GRN did not buy the grains for the national strategic food reserves and on the other hand households have enough stock of grains hence the selling of maize in the country is very slow.” 

NE: In your view as the managing director for Agribusdev responsible for these projects that are doing badly in terms of selling their produce, what do you think should be done to expand your market access for your maize and other grains as well as fresh produce?

PU: “In the first place Agronomic Board and AMTA are in charge of regulating and implementing regulations to control the import of maize and other controlled crops. One mechanism in place is enforcing the closed border period for maize until all grains produced locally are taken up. So, in this case the border will remain closed until all grains are bought, but the issue here to producers is cash flow which has a bearing even on our ability to get inputs for the upcoming summer season.”

NE: Have you and your projects brought your concerns to the relevant authorities? Why are Ndonga Linena and other green scheme projects unable to sell their maize? 
PU: “In the meantime relief measures have been agreed upon with our line ministry and our board i.e. to use the silo certificate up to a certain threshold level of the certificate value to access funding from our bank – the process is 99 percent complete.”

NE: What are the factors limiting market access for these government irrigation projects? Is the market in Namibia too small for your produce or has this got to do with the quality of your produce?

PU: “Substandard is the last thing that we can talk of, our produce is by far of a good quality. Yes the market is smaller hence slower absorption capacity. In my view we need to strongly promote [food] exports.”

NE: What do you think should be done to broaden your market access? 

PU: “GRN, NAB and AMTA shall jointly compel public institutions like the food bank, supplier to GRN institutions to source locally before given permits to import and even before given supply contracts.” 

NE: Do South African agricultural products have any bearing on your current predicament? 

PU: “I would rather say imports as it does not matter which country distorts the local market.”

NE: In order to remedy the current situation of not having a market for your grains and fresh produce what do you think should be done? Is the current legislation adequate to ensure your produce is given market access in comparison to produce such as tomatoes, onions, cabbages, spinach and other greens and even maize and sorghum? 

PU: “In my view the implementation of the market share promotion for horticultural crops shall continue unabated until such a time that optimal level is achieved equally. I call upon and support the introduction of the same system for maize and other controlled grains.” 

NE:  Apart from having the challenge of being unable to sell your produce what are the other challenges your irrigation projects face? 

PU- “As you know we were hit hard by the fall armyworms in 2016 and we are just recovering. The recovery route is never easy and certainly the shareholder support to re-capitalize the business, given the noted disaster, is absolutely necessary.” 

NE: What should government do to assist you to overcome some of these challenges facing you?

PU: “GRN as a shareholder has been with us and in my view the GRN shall continue to reform and create economic space for local business. From the just concluded land conference the agenda for national food security was prominent. Hence more investment is required to reverse the trend of relying on other countries. We have land, water, entrepreneurs then let us bring capital and technology as a country to advance our development agenda.”

NE: Electricity at your projects is constantly being cut off because you can’t afford to keep up with payments. The then agriculture minister John Mutorwa at some point in 2016 suggested that Agribusdev should do a study at all government green schemes on the use of solar power to cut cost on the high cost of electricity at this projects. Mutorwa at the time during his visit at Shadikongoro irrigation project said that the study will then inform the ministry and Agribusdev that they should use Nored power for this, but for other things maybe solar can work. How far are you from implementing that request which will seemingly help these projects?

PU: “We have finalised the concept note and the necessary tender document drafted. The main issue now is to secure funding to do the actual development. As provided for in the procurement act one has to secure the required funding before attempting to run a tender.”

New Era regional reporter responsible for the two Kavangos, John Muyamba had an exclusive interview with the Agribusdev managing director, Petrus Uugwanga (PU) , who oversees the operations at all government green scheme projects.  The multi-dimensional interview looks at the current issues happening at this multi-million-dollar state projects that are seemingly struggling to sell their produce to generate income for their daily operations. 

NE: New Era is informed government irrigation projects that you oversee are struggling to enter the market with their produce, they are sitting with their maize and other produce without a market, why don’t you have a market for your maize?  

PU: “As it currently stands for maize the issue is not about the available market but rather the slow uptake or absorption capacity of the local market. More so due to the fact that due to the last season bumper harvest at household level, GRN did not buy the grains for the national strategic food reserves and on the other hand households have enough stock of grains hence the selling of maize in the country is very slow.” 

NE: In your view as the managing director for Agribusdev responsible for these projects that are doing badly in terms of selling their produce, what do you think should be done to expand your market access for your maize and other grains as well as fresh produce?

PU: “In the first place Agronomic Board and AMTA are in charge of regulating and implementing regulations to control the import of maize and other controlled crops. One mechanism in place is enforcing the closed border period for maize until all grains produced locally are taken up. So, in this case the border will remain closed until all grains are bought, but the issue here to producers is cash flow which has a bearing even on our ability to get inputs for the upcoming summer season.”

NE: Have you and your projects brought your concerns to the relevant authorities? Why are Ndonga Linena and other green scheme projects unable to sell their maize? 
PU: “In the meantime relief measures have been agreed upon with our line ministry and our board i.e. to use the silo certificate up to a certain threshold level of the certificate value to access funding from our bank – the process is 99 percent complete.”

NE: What are the factors limiting market access for these government irrigation projects? Is the market in Namibia too small for your produce or has this got to do with the quality of your produce?

PU: “Substandard is the last thing that we can talk of, our produce is by far of a good quality. Yes the market is smaller hence slower absorption capacity. In my view we need to strongly promote [food] exports.”

NE: What do you think should be done to broaden your market access? 

PU: “GRN, NAB and AMTA shall jointly compel public institutions like the food bank, supplier to GRN institutions to source locally before given permits to import and even before given supply contracts.” 

NE: Do South African agricultural products have any bearing on your current predicament? 

PU: “I would rather say imports as it does not matter which country distorts the local market.”

NE: In order to remedy the current situation of not having a market for your grains and fresh produce what do you think should be done? Is the current legislation adequate to ensure your produce is given market access in comparison to produce such as tomatoes, onions, cabbages, spinach and other greens and even maize and sorghum? 

PU: “In my view the implementation of the market share promotion for horticultural crops shall continue unabated until such a time that optimal level is achieved equally. I call upon and support the introduction of the same system for maize and other controlled grains.” 

NE:  Apart from having the challenge of being unable to sell your produce what are the other challenges your irrigation projects face? 

PU- “As you know we were hit hard by the fall armyworms in 2016 and we are just recovering. The recovery route is never easy and certainly the shareholder support to re-capitalize the business, given the noted disaster, is absolutely necessary.” 

NE: What should government do to assist you to overcome some of these challenges facing you?

PU: “GRN as a shareholder has been with us and in my view the GRN shall continue to reform and create economic space for local business. From the just concluded land conference the agenda for national food security was prominent. Hence more investment is required to reverse the trend of relying on other countries. We have land, water, entrepreneurs then let us bring capital and technology as a country to advance our development agenda.”

NE: Electricity at your projects is constantly being cut off because you can’t afford to keep up with payments. The then agriculture minister John Mutorwa at some point in 2016 suggested that Agribusdev should do a study at all government green schemes on the use of solar power to cut cost on the high cost of electricity at this projects. Mutorwa at the time during his visit at Shadikongoro irrigation project said that the study will then inform the ministry and Agribusdev that they should use Nored power for this, but for other things maybe solar can work. How far are you from implementing that request which will seemingly help these projects?

PU: “We have finalised the concept note and the necessary tender document drafted. The main issue now is to secure funding to do the actual development. As provided for in the procurement act one has to secure the required funding before attempting to run a tender.”


John Muyamba
2018-10-26 09:18:10 6 months ago

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