• March 29th, 2020

Government settles green scheme arrears

Albertina Nakale

WINDHOEK - In an attempt to restore full production at five green schemes, the government has promptly intervened to settle about N$3 million owed by these farms to the Northern Regions Electricity Distributor (Nored).
This comes days after Nored disconnected the power supply to five green schemes in the Kavango and Zambezi regions last week Monday due to electricity non-payments.
The defaulting green schemes in both the Kavango and Zambezi regions include Sikondo, Shandikongoro, Musese Small Scale, Uhvungu-Vhungu, Ndonga and Kalimbeza.

In an interview on Monday, Agribusdev managing director Petrus Uugwanga confirmed to New Era the power disconnections at the green schemes and that the government has since intervened to have power restored.
“It is correct that some projects were disconnected mid-last week and with the intervention from the ministry they were reconnected by end of last week,” Uugwanga confirmed.

He also confirmed that the green schemes owed Nored around N$3 million which government has taken care of for the power supplier to restore electricity.

New Era further wanted to find out what steps did the government take to ensure the power supplies were restored promptly – seeing that Agribusdev had allegedly earlier requested an amount of N$20 million as bailout from the government. 
In this regard Uugwanga explained that the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry assisted with the payment of the outstanding bill. 

He, however, clarified that the N$20 million requested is not a bailout, but is part of the Agribusdev budget proposal for 2019/2020 to the line ministry which is earmarked for buying inputs in order to fill  the gap in the production cycle and cash flow created by the inevitable and unfortunate invasion of the fall armyworms in 2017. 
In the 2016/2017 cropping season, approximately 50 000 hectares of maize and millet were estimated to have been damaged by these worms that adversely affected 27 000 households. The fall armyworms were recorded in Sachona, Kongola, Ngoma, Bukalo, Kashesh, and Musanga of the Zambezi Region.
Therefore, he said, the N$20 million should not be considered as a bailout but a re-capitalisation of business after the unfortunate invasion of the fall armyworms in the 2017 disaster. 
“We are eagerly awaiting the ministry to approve our budget which contains that component of re-capitalisation of business. This is an ideal business practice in a situation of this nature.”  
New Era wanted Uugwanga to describe the overall conditions or performance of green schemes countrywide in terms of food production in light of the prevailing drought.
He said the production is relatively good but there is still a bigger scope to scale up the production of fodder seeing that this will be a major challenge for the farmers this year. 
He maintained green schemes remain with the huge potential to mitigate the drought conditions provided that appropriate support is given. 
However, he admitted that there are areas of inefficiency in the system that ought to be rooted out. 
He said that some of those areas have been identified and Agribusdev is resolving the issue.
Among those Uugwanga mentioned is the design of the electricity capacity requirement which attracts huge maximum demand and fixed charges. 
“For projects like Hardap where we are growing lucerne the major risk lies in the lower level of water in the dam. We are not sure if the current water can carry us through,a and as such, we are not able to expand the planting beyond what we already have there,” he reasoned. 

Caption (Pic; power disconnections):

Albertina Nakale
2019-05-15 10:22:11 | 10 months ago

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