02 Jul 2013 09:01
RUNDU, 02 JUL (NAMPA) - The Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry and the Namibian Agronomic Board are busy working on a subsidy scheme for small-scale horticultural farmers in the country.
This comes after complaints were received by the Agriculture Ministry from horticultural producers, who had been appealing to the ministry to consider introducing horticulture subsidies and other schemes similar to those in place in the grain-producing sector.
Agriculture, Water and Forestry Minister John Mutorwa said during a consultative meeting with constituency councillors at Rundu in the Kavango Region on Monday that it was high time for his ministry to devise a scheme for horticultural producers.
Some horticultural producers in the Kavango Region have in the past complained that they feel left out in terms of Government subsidies, and pleaded with the Agriculture Minister to consider introducing such benefits as they also need Government?s support in order to increase food production.
The assistance to grain producers includes subsidised ploughing services, improved seeds as well as weeding services.
The Rundu and Ongwediva fresh produce business hubs are meant to serve as storage and marketing facilities for perishable horticultural products.
The minister informed those present that his ministry?s Directorate of Extension and Engineering Services and the Namibia Agronomic Board are busy developing a new scheme for horticultural producer.
Once it is completed, producers will be informed so that they could start benefiting like their counterparts in dry-land crop-production programmes.
Mutorwa agreed that horticultural producers need assistance from Government, as the investment needed for the growing of fresh produce is expensive.
Government?s lack of support for horticultural producers was also raised with President Hifikepunye Pohamba during his visit to the Salem Irrigation Project east of Rundu in February 2011.
During that visit, small-scale farmers there said they felt neglected by Government because they did not benefit from various Government empowerment schemes and subsidies.
The majority of the disgruntled producers were women from villages surrounding the irrigation project.
They stated that they had, for instance, never benefited from Government fertiliser subsidies as those subsidies are apparently meant for the dry-land crop programme only, and not for horticultural producers.
They also claimed that they had never received any form of assistance from the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry?s regional office, adding that the only assistance they received from that office was in the form of technical advice.
The lack of fertiliser subsidies for horticultural producers apparently continuously results in low crop yields due to poor soil fertility.