National Council member of parliament Petrus Kavhura says he is stunned that Namibia continues importing maize and Mahangu as if the country does not have enough land, water and labour. Contributing to the ministry of agriculture’s dryland cropping programme budget in the house, Kavhura said Mahangu is a major staple food for over 50% of the Namibian population.
“The crop adapts well and can be produced in Zambezi, Kavango East, Kavango West, Ohangwena, Omusati, Oshana, Oshikoto and parts of Otjozondjupa regions. So far, we have not given Mahangu the significance it deserves,” he remarked.
Government allocated an amount of N$1.3 billion towards agriculture, water and forestry for the 2020/21 financial year. Out of the total budget allocation, an amount of N$22 million has been earmarked towards the dryland cropping programme.
Agriculture is the backbone of Namibia’s economy; however, Kavhura stressed, productivity is far below its potential. The statistics indicate that what the nation produces and consumes is not consistent. Statistics also indicate that Namibia still rely more on import.
According to the Agronomic Board Annual Report 2017/18, Namibia imported about 96% of its fruits, while maize imports hover around 50% over the years.
Kavhura opined that this situation can be changed if government can empower rural communities through agriculture and by budgeting enough towards the dryland cropping programme.
“The current amount of N$22 million is not enough, and I doubt whether we can achieve the intended objectives. If we want to achieve the intended results and to stop the import, of especially mahangu, what we need to do is to prioritise the procurement of tractors,” Kavhura suggested.
President Hage Geingob, in his state of the nation address in April 2019, said 162 tractors were deployed to provide subsidized agricultural ploughing services to communal farmers. Furthermore, additional tractors are to be acquired to ensure each crop-producing constituency is serviced by a minimum of four tractors from the current average of two tractors per constituency.
Kavhura welcomed the initiative and, therefore, urged the ministry of agriculture to live upon this statement by timely delivery of the tractors to support programmes such as Operation Werengendje, Katemo and Tulongeni.
“I read in the newspapers about an advert calling for an expression of interest to procure tractors and related implements through the Namibia Agricultural Mechanisation and Seed Improvement Project (NAMSIP). The move is welcomed; however, I am concerned with the procurement system that sometimes dictates to us to take whatever is cheap or sometimes take what we don’t use effectively,” he reacted.
He cited the advert, which only indicates: supply and delivery of sixty-four 60-70 kW tractors with a matching implement.
According to him, this type of expression of interest creates a loophole for acquiring wrong implements that are of a substandard or does not fit local conditions – no after-sale services and parts. He further lamented that procuring from international markets instead of established service providers in the country or the region worsens the situation.
“I think when it comes to tractor brands, one needs to use common sense – as to which tractor and machinery brands fit well with the environment: strong and reliable. To avoid procuring cheap tractors and machinery far afield in the name of open bidding, knowing that the user will struggle to use and maintain the tractors and machinery,” he noted.
2020-07-01 10:42:22 | 5 days ago