Marythar Kambinda & Aron Mushaukwa
KATIMA MULILO - After being dormant for about two years, the Kalimbeza rice project in the Zambezi region is preparing for the harvest of rice produced at the green scheme.
This is despite the challenges that had previously been experienced at the farm, including a lack of funding.
“The project has not really been affected by the outbreak of Covid-19 as activities are still ongoing. We started with planting in the first week of October and the rice that we started planting that time is about to be harvested at the end of January,” said farm manager Patrick Kompeli.
Kompeli further explained they have planted 47 hectares of Irga rice (medium grain) so far, of which 15 hectares will be ready for harvest by the end of the month. Each hectare is expected to produce at least three tons of rice and the price of each ton is about N$11 000.
Irga rice takes about four months from the time of planting to harvest, while the Supa rice (long grain) takes about five to six months. However, according to Kompeli, only 60% of what is harvested is considered good rice.
He, however, explained planting during the rainy season is a daunting challenge.
As such, the rain which has been pouring in the region in December has been a minor setback.
“When it is raining, you cannot send tractors in the field as the tractors get stuck, so this has taken most of our time. Now that it has stopped raining here for a couple of days, we are trying to rush and prepare large areas so that by the end of January we are done with 80 hectares,” elaborated Kompeli.
He also pointed out the other challenge is that of the field which is not levelled, which makes irrigation difficult as the rice does not get enough water.
“We were not pleased with the company that was given a contract last year to level the field. So, we cancelled the tender. We just continued planting and we will do so up to the end of January as that is our cut-off date.”
He further stated they are planting the Supa rice, of which 10 hectares have already been covered. The target is to plant 80 hectares.
Although the seasonal flood is fast approaching, Kompeli explained a wall is currently being constructed to avoid possible overflowing of water into the rice fields.
“In as much as the rice needs a lot of water, too much of it can destroy it, as it would be submerged in the water and we will not harvest anything,” he said.
As for the market, Kompeli said the demand is very high and the rice produced is not enough to cater for the available market.
He added apart from local demand, the product is also sent to different places within the country such as Windhoek, Oshakati as well as Rundu.
According to Kompeli, they have recruited 64 casual workers to help with bird scaring from the fields which are ready for harvest.
This is to ensure that they do not lose too much rice to the weavers.
A further six workers are helping with irrigation, while 18 have been hired to assist with weeding.