Hardap Farmers Allege Government Neglect

MEDIUM scale farmers at the Hardap Green Scheme project recently alleged that they have been neglected by Government, which they claim, aersely affects their production.

The farmers have a lease agreement with Government to cultivate a six hectare piece of land for an annual fee of N$18 000, but they say lack of farming tools hampers their production ability.

Farmer Ghenno Himarwa, who spoke to The Namibian on behalf of the group, said lack of Government support has left them “disappointed and discouraged”.

“We’ve been surviving on our own for almost two years,” Himarwa professed adding that high rental fees make it difficult for them to acquire tractors and balling machines. He also said Government officials prohibit them from using State-owned balling machines because they do not know how to operate them.

“The implements are locked up in a storeroom. There are four tractors, which are in a derelict state, of which only two are completely broken,” said Himarwa.

He added that the farmers have been raised issues affecting them at several meetings with the agriculture minister, John Mutorwa, his permanent secretary Joseph Iita, and the Agricultural Business Development Agency managing director, Petrus Uugwanga, but no avail.

Himarwa said it took Government almost two years to appoint a new service provider, who visited the Hardap Irrigation Scheme plots for two days before disappearing.

“To date we do not know what had happened to her. We’re kept in the dark,”.

Himarwa professed that only he and another farmer, who own farming implements, were able to meet their production over the past three years.

He blamed an alleged I-don’t-care attitude on part of Government officials for the problems, and the tendency to neglect the southern part of the country.

Petrus Uugwanga dismissed the claims, stressing that the project is run within the framework of the green scheme policy.

“There shall be no reason for an agency of State to neglect them, since we are in the same boat and there is only one ultimate objective of food security,” Uugwanga said.

He revealed that Government placed an aertisement twice looking for a service provider, but no suitable candidate was found.

Because of this, Uugwanga added, Government decided to appoint Lydia Sinyepe, who is currently undergoing orientation at the head office, as a farm manager on 17 February to manage the Hardap Green Scheme Irrigation project.

“The non-appointment of the service provider then was not by design,” Uugwanga remarked.

Sinyepe is expected to take up her position as farm manager at the project early next month. “We’ll set up a meeting shortly to introduce her to the leaseesfarmers.”

He said farmers do not lack anything but “inadequate somehow may be correct, but there are reasonable tools to produce at least”.

Uugwanga reminded the farmers that the ball is in their court, they should rise and prove their mettle.

He announced that a consultative meeting with the farmers is scheduled for the second week of April.

Source : The Namibian