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Uvhungu-Vhungu Green Scheme Gets New Operators…Farmers Feel Betrayed

By: Annakleta Haikera

Uvhungu-Vhungu Green Schemes in the Kavango East region will soon start with new operators. This decision was made by the Cabinet and the line ministry of agriculture, water and land reform. The project will be going back to Agriculture by June or July, and the new operators will provide everything at the Green Schemes.

This also comes after a letter from the small scale farmers addressed to agriculture minister Calle Schlettwein on 1 March 2022, stating farmers are expecting a complete loss at Uvhungu-Vhungu small scale irrigation farm (SSIF).

During the line Ministry’s visit to the Uvhungu-Vhungu Green Schemes in August 2020, the small scale farmers had issues affecting their productions and leading to poor performance. Such matters included electricity, high fuel charges, leasing fees, outdated infrastructure, poor management, and alleged betrayal from the AgriBusDev agency on SSIFs on which no distinct improvement was made.

Acting managing director of AgriBusDev, Berfine Antindi, said she was aware of the situation affecting the small scale farmers at the Uvhungu-Vhungu Green Scheme.

“To tackle some of the complaints of poor management from the small scale irrigation farmers in the letter; they are not true because we have the best skilful manager. Before AgriBusDev, the present manager was doing so well at Shadikongoro, but now if you look at Mashare, many things have changed. That’s because of a new capable manager. Things were terrible, but he came to pick up the pieces at the Uvhungu-Vhungu project. The infrastructures are old because the building is way too old. For many years now, the infrastructure has not been repaired.

She also added, “small scale irrigation farmers create many unnecessary situations. They don’t sit around their tables and iron out their problems. The irrigation problem cannot be fixed in one day. That’s why the Ministry is giving the project to new investors. In the following two months, either in June or July, the new operators will take care of every problem,” she said.

One of the small scale irrigation farmers, Rudolf Kalimbo, says they will expect a loss during this winter season, and they fear the next production since there is no voucher process yet.

He said, “We humbly request the line ministry to intervene for at least rules and decision-making after consultations with the right people or farmers to avoid too much failure.” He also said, “We have decided to send a letter on our own to the MAWLR and acting MD Agribusdev without using the office as a communication channel because the farm manager refused to sign and stamp, but our crops are damaged.”

In the letter addressed to Schlettwein, the farmers also complained about the water shortage and receiving water of shallow pressure. This, they said, has led to critical stages where the formation of cobs and tasseling became impossible and poorly developed.

They also complained that the Green Schemes project continues under-producing, and they fear their future as happy farmers, and their objectives and missions will not be fulfilled since no farmer received an Agribank loan.

Julia Heita

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