Uvhungu-Vhungu dairy farm reconstruction on track

UVHUNGU-VHUNGU: The second phase of the reconstruction of the multi-million dollar Uvhungu-Vhungu dairy farm is well on track, and is set for completion within a month’s time.

The rebuilding of the dairy farm on the outskirts of Rundu commenced last year after the farm was closed by the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry in November 2009, resulting in the suspension of the supply of fresh and cultured milk, butter and cream to hospitals and some schools in the two Kavango regions.

The closure resulted in the cows used on the farm being relocated to the Mashare Agricultural Development Institute (MADI), situated 50 kilometres east of Rundu.

The 150 cows were also relocated because they were dying as a result of the farm not being managed properly, and in order to make way for the upgrading of the farm, because the processing equipment on the farm, such as the milking parlour and the animal kraal, were deteriorating.

Gary Ives, the project manager of Gecko Mining Company which was awarded the tender for the first and second phases on the farm, told Nampa on Monday the first phase of the project which involved earthworks such as debushing and the creation of a 600 metre road, were completed in May this year.

The second phase of the project involving erecting a steel structures to be used as a feeding station, silage for bull calves and heifers, a parking area and new pump station will be completed sometime next month, while the third phase of the project will be out to tender soon.

The work on infrastructure such as irrigation and electrical reticulation, plumbing and the water-treatment plant has already been completed.

The third phase of the project will involve the construction of a milking parlour and milk extraction section.

The dairy farm is situated on 280 hectares land.

The project has been hailed for creating employment for both skilled and unskilled local people.

A total of 176 jobs were created during the first two phases of renovating the farm.

The project only imported three skilled workers – a project manager; plant manager; and general foreman from South Africa.

The ministry has set out a budget of N.dollars 100 million over a three-year period for the development of this dairy farm, with the entire project expected to be completed next year.

When the project was transferred to the Ministry of Agriculture, it was observed that the technology there had become obsolete.

As a result, the ministry contracted JWE Consulting Engineering Company to carry out a feasibility study, and subsequently to redesign the dairy farm.

Some of the findings of that study were that the dairy farm lacked quality control products, and had outdated and dilapidated infrastructure, which rendered the production of milk uneconomical.

The study further showed that the cows were very old and needed to be replaced, while poor water quality and control in the factory and dairy parlour was also noted.

There was also a serious potential of water pollution by cattle manure in case of flooding.

The upgrading of the dairy section includes the extension of the existing irrigation area to be able to irrigate 142 hectares for fodder production.

The ministry’s development plan is divided into three phases – phase one being the feasibility study and design; phase two being the actual construction; and phase three being the implementation of the management structure of the project and the procurement of heifers.

Once completed, Uvhungu-Vhungu will have two distinct production areas – the dairy farm and a crop-production section.

The new milking complex will consist of a milking parlour, cow and calf housing, feeding station and manure-handling facilities.

Since the closure of the dairy farm, residents in the vicinity of the dairy farm have to travel about 10 kilometres to Rundu to purchase fresh milk.

Before the closure, the dairy cows’ production declined, and they delivered only between 265 to 300 litres of milk per day, far less than the 1 000 litres of milk consumed per day in the region.