Govt Evicts Grape Farmers – Again

THE government has served 10 of the 19 small-scale irrigation farmers at the Orange River Irrigation Project (ORIP) with notices to vacate the vineyard plots when their lease-hold agreement expires next month.

The affected farmers are Anneli Shithigona, Ester Kadhidhi, Risto Shikongo, David Shikongo, Kaimbi Haitembu, Apollonia Hausiku, Simon Olavi, Augustinus Haith, Erna Jossop and Josef Frederick.

Ironically, the affected grape growers claim that the other nine farmers, were aised to apply for a renewal of their lease-hold agreement before the expiry of their current five-year agreements on 19 August 2014.

In 2012, the affected farmers were also evicted for refusing to sell their products through Cool Fresh Namibia, a subsidiary of the Dutch-based Cool Fresh International, which government had contracted in 2009 to market the project’s produce.

However, they returned in early 2013 after they had won a court case in which they challenged their eviction.

Speaking on behalf of the affected farmers, Haith said they saw their “evictions notice” as a form of a “witch-hunt”.

“They have taken land from us and gave it to foreigners. Why are we being evicted from the land on the basis of economic empowerment?” Haith asked.

Haith said the affected grape growers had been farming on the land for the past 14 years, and that “now they are being forcibly sent onto the street”.

“Pray for us not to be evicted. We need the land to benefit also from the wealth of our country,” Haith appealed to the public.

When asked about the disparities in dealing with the expiry of the small-scale farmers’ lease-hold agreement, Agricultural Business Development Agency managing director, Petrus Uugwanga said those served with notices to vacate the plots are in “dispute with the government”.

Source : The Namibian