By Victor Angula |
When the Etunda Irrigation Project in Ruacana Constituency was started in the early 1990s it promised to make Omusati region the breadbasket of northern Namibia.
Over the years the project was doing well. But just when the Founding President Sam Nujoma stepped down as the president of Namibia in 2005 things at Etunda started going down.
Or at least this is what most people in Omusati believe.
In an exclusive interview with Omutumwa the Governor of Omusati Mr Erginus Endjala explains what the problem has been that caused the downfall of Etunda.
In his own words Mr Endjala says the following:
“The problem with Etunda, one has to understand it this way, there is a management company created by the ministry of agriculture that we call Agribusdev.
“Agribusdev is the one that is given the task to run all those types of green schemes. But then it simply tells us that through their management style the green schemes are not making any profits.
“And as a result they are just going down and not making any improvements. As it stands Agribusdev took up management of all green schemes in Namibia and they put them all in one basket. And now if one green scheme is not performing it will affect also all the other green schemes that are performing.
“As a result we realise that now the implements when it comes to seeds, tractors and all others are not arriving on time for people to produce because there is no money. And the other thing is that when it comes to debt that they owe to service providers like Namwater and Nampower, get also increased to the level now that they are not able to pay.
“As a result then it will affect the production level at the ground.
“We this week or last week did receive two petitions; one from the small scale farmers that are residing in Etunda, and the second one from the employees. The employees were alleging that they did not receive their payments and they are also worried about the certainty of their livelihoods and employment at Etunda because the production level is going down. And I think that was the problem.
“Now to the small scale farmers the issue was that the assistance they used to receive from the farm like the fertilisers, the seeds and all others have stopped; they are no longer receiving those types of assistance, which made it now difficult for them to produce.
“The system works this way: the service provider who is now Agribusdev supposed to be assisting the farmers to produce and then buy those produce of the farmers and the farmers pay for what they have used (during the production process).
“At the current moment I think even the ploughing service is no longer there, it’s cut, everything is cut off. It means literally the small scale farmers can no longer produce, as a result Etunda is no longer in production as it used to be.
“And it’s a worrying factor, but we are engaging now with the line ministry and to look at how better perhaps we can iron out the issue of Agribusdev to have Etunda put under either the Regional Council management, so that at least we can properly manage it ourselves more than when it’s under Agribusdev.
“When there was an organisation called Sulcade which was the service provider, the Regional Council had a representative on the board, the traditional council of Oukolonkadhi was also having a representative on the board. But when the Agribusdev came in all that arrangement has now ceased.
“It means there is no more any direct supervision from the regional council. We only come in when there is a problem because still it’s a government entity. When there is a problem we jump in to see how can we resolve it but the whole thing is that the management is done and operating independently because it’s now an institution on its own, Agribusdev is an entity on its own, our regional council our hands are cut off and we are no longer involved.
“The only time we can be involved is if we tell the ministry that things are no longer going well at the ground because we have seen the effect that we are no longer producing to the levels expected and the public are not getting the service they supposed to get.
“Because for us Etunda is a lifeline; we cannot do without it. That is where we buy our food, that is where we buy food for our animals and that is where we employ our people.
“But at the current moment it’s uncertain to see in what degree and how, what the future hold for Etunda. I think that is the main problem that we have.”
In the photo: Omusati Governor Mr Erginus Endjala.