Government has set aside N$160 million for the first phase of the construction of the Uvungu Vungu experimental farm in the Kavango East Region.
The farm project is part of the Green Scheme project that is meant to improve food sustenance for the country and also contribute to the Gross Domestic Product.
The new Dairy project is part of the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry’s (MAWF) recently launched Strategic Plan.
The Managing Director of Agribusdev, Petrus Uugwanga, said construction at the farm has already started and is expected to complete next year May.
The N$160m is spread over a three-year construction period and implementation programme, which omits the working capital ranging from N$25m to N$62m, according to the project’s feasibility report.
Uugwanga added that government will bankroll the project, one hundred percent.
“Primarily this project is to counter response to domestic and regional market forces and it shall thus not be construed that the products from the project will be used to hurt existing domestic business but rather to broaden the customs choice,” he said.
He also expressed that fundamentally, the principal idea for this project’s development is to avoid dairy products’ short fall in the home market.
“The completion of capital development is estimated to be completed end of May 2015. In essence we could say as soon as the capital development phase is completed, the actual production will kick-off,” he said.
According to the Namibia Development Corporation (NDC), Senior Manager of Corporate Service, Wessel !Nanuseb, this project was managed by the NDC since its inception until 2003, pursuant to a Cabinet Decision that the Vungu Vungu Dairy Farm be transferred to the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry to be managed accordingly.
“Ever since, our involvement with Vungu Vungu project ceased in 2003 and the NDC cannot express any opinion as to the feasibility of this project since we disengaged in 2003 and thus not familiar with the conditions and subsequent developments that may or may not have occurred,” he said.
Since the construction of the project, 300 to 350 permanent and temporary jobs have been created with 100 permanent.
The Agricultural Marketing Trade Agency’s (AMTA) Corporate Branding and Promotion Officer, Meke Uushona, said Amta is in charge of the marketing of the fresh dairy products as well as derivatives that will come from the Uvungu Vungu project.
“What Amta will do is market the produce. Example is if there is milk or meat, Amta will then come into the picture with the purpose of marketing that milk. What Amta can also do is find means to add value to that produce,” she said.
She added that even though Namibia is importing milk from countries like South Africa, the government is still working hard to meet the demand in the country.
“This project is a feasible study of the Ministry of Agriculture, water and Forestry (MAWF) and it is for that reason that the government came up with that infrastructure to increase milk production in the country,” said Uushona.
The Group Manager of External Relations at Ohlthaver & List Group of Companies, Roux-Che Locke said that in support of Government’s ‘Growth at Home’ strategy, the Namib Dairies welcomes the Vungu Vungu dairy farm is being built as this will only increase local supply.
“It will also bring with it all the other benefits of local production such as local economic development, employment and Namib Dairies does not see this as competition,” said Locke.
Locke also added that the Namib Dairies will explore ways in which they can be of assistance to this initiative as a way to welcome increased local dairy production.
“At the moment it would be too early to speculate whether the Namib Dairy will liaise with the Vungu Vungu farm to procure and distribute dairy products in the Northern part of Namibia as well as Namibia at large,” she said.
The Uvungu Vungu farm is a 290 hectare government facility on the banks of the Okavango River that is used for experimental purposes and offers itself to produce fodder to sustain the milk cows whilst 230 hectares will be used to grow fodder under irrigation.