Matheus Hamutenya Aussenkehr While farming in Aussenkehr was aimed at empowering Namibian people to venture into the grape industry, many small-scale farmers in the area have incurred debts instead. Government in 2001 trained farmers, who were then given plots so that they could produce grapes and other fresh produce to sell, but while the gesture was well meant, the farmers have few success stories to tell. Instead, they share stories of how deeply they are in debt, with some indicating that they owe close to N$1 million. And due to some drawbacks some farmers’ lease agreements have also been terminated, leaving many with no source of income, and this pushed some farmers to beg for drought relief food this year in order to feed their families, saying they do not have the means to support their families anymore. “We have nothing left to eat; we received bags of rice from the councillor but it is now finished. We went to see him again but he showed us an empty store room, there is nothing left anymore,” said one of the farmers at the time. But managing director of Agribusdev Petrus Uugwanga assured New Era that the situation of the small-scale farmers had improved since the agency took over in 2015, saying there have been reforms undertaken to put the farmers in a better position to make profit. He told New Era that most of the problems the farmers were facing were a result of past mistakes and that Agribusdev has put in place certain measures to ensure professionalism in running their businesses. “We are happy with the measures put in place, especially to control the expenditure. We said control the cost but do not comprise on the quality of the produce, and we are happy as we expect to triple the output this year,” he said. He further urged farmers to run their affairs like that of any other business and to take their work serious, and have business ethics in order to succeed, saying farmers must inculcate business values, and move away from anything that is not consistent with business ethics. The director, who recently visited the farm briefly, explained that in the past most farmers were not making any profit because of certain impediments, such as the recruiting of casual workers exceeding the needed number, which meant more was spent on salaries than needed to be. New Era understands that some farmers put ghost workers on their payroll, so that they could receive the money themselves, which also escalated production costs. “In the past you will find that the number of people employed were not in proportion to the work done, so we have taken over all these critical areas, and we are going to reform the funding method to farmers,” he said.
2017-12-14 09:11:39 9 months ago