Nearly eight months after the agriculture ministry said that it would offer the country’s 11 green schemes to local and foreign investors to lease and operate, there appears to have been no takers yet.
The country’s government-run green schemes have been unproductive for years, prompting government to look at potential local and foreign investors to revive the green schemes around the country.
Agriculture minister Called Schlletwein earlier this month met with farmers around Grootfontein and informed them about government’s intention to offer opportunity for local and foreign investors to partner with Namibia to operate 11 green scheme projects, including a dairy project, and investment opportunities through a competitive leasing and bidding process.
Government’s bid to attract private capital and partnerships through lease agreements and public private partnerships (PPPs) on various green schemes is a means to stimulate and grow the agricultural sector and the economy in general.
The ministry’s spokesperson Jona Musheko told The Villager that the government has about 11 green schemes and three of those were already taken up by private investors.
“Our focus is mainly on those that are not productive and we do not have the financial resources to run them. However, not all of them will be sold as there are some that will be run by government,” Musheko said.
He stated that the ministry had already issued the request for proposals (RFPs) for each of the five green schemes and is waiting for investors to submit their bids.
The green schemes that are currently under the private sector control are the Shitemo, Musese, Mashare and the Hardap green scheme farms that belongs to the Correctional Services.
“We still have the rest that we are trying to see how many would remain depending on the financial available resources. We have already advertised some for private partnerships,” he added.
The Orange River, Etunda, Sikondo, Vhungu-Vhungu, Ndonga-Linena, Shadikongoro and Kalimbeza green scheme farms are still government-run.
In July this year, a Swapo think tank report advised the ruling party to allocate eight state-owned green schemes to regional councils to manage in order to create jobs and boost food security.
The report, titled ‘Pursuing Efficient National Agricultural Land Use for an Enhanced Economic Growth And Food Security’, was tabled and discussed at the third Swapo policy conference held in July this year.
The government currently owns 11 green schemes across the country on land measuring 4 100 hectares.
Four of the 11 schemes are leased out to the private sector, while eight are managed through the state-owned Agriculture Business Development Agency (AgribusDev), which was established in 2011 to monitor and create an ideal environment for achieving the objectives of the green schemes, as defined by the green scheme policy of 2008. However, over the years, AgribusDev could not manage the green schemes. Last year, Cabinet thus approved to cancel the memorandum of understanding between the ministry of agriculture and AgribusDev.
According to the Swapo report, green schemes have gobbled up N$1,2 billion,with total losses amounting to N$1,1 billion in the past eight years.
The government has added green scheme farms on the bucket list of projects it was selling to foreign investors in the Middle East – a move strongly criticised by the Namibia Local Business Association (Naloba).