21 Aug 2014 17:20pm
WINDHOEK, 21 AUG (NAMPA) The hybrid seed project initiated by the Womens Action for Development (WAD) organisation will not use or produce genetically-modified organisms (GMOs).
It is also only for export purposes, outgoing WAD Executive Director Veronica de Klerk said in a media statement issued on Thursday in response to a Nampa query about the multi-million-dollar venture at the Orange River Irrigation Project in Aussenkehr.
The project is set to provide jobs to 2 000 residents of the //Karas Region, transfer technical skills, develop infrastructure and contribute towards the influx of foreign currency.
WAD signed a Letter of Understanding in January 2012 with Technical Management Services (TMS), an Israeli agro-based company and world-renowned seed exportation company, Nunhems, from The Netherlands.
TMS brought this initiative to Namibia, and will also provide technical expertise in the production of hybrid seeds.
Upon completion of the pilot phase, the production will concentrate on hybrid seeds for tomatoes, melons, watermelons and cucumbers.
De Klerk explained that after the seeds had been produced and extracted here, they are exported in 100 per cent raw form to Nunhems in The Netherlands for final processing and packaging.
This means the hybrid seeds remain the property of Nunhems, which is the patent holder. Nunhems is entirely responsible for the distribution of the final product to its global market.
Namibia shall be recognised as the producer of the seeds on the packaging, she stressed.
Hybrid seeds are obtained from plants which are bred in classical breeding methods and technics, with no intervention of genetical manipulation or the introduction of genes from other species to create resistance against pests and herbicides.
The seeds are expensive because of the qualities it bears as opposed to ordinary seeds, said De Klerk.
It will also not produce another generation of hybrids. The yield should not be kept for planting the next season, because it does not necessarily maintain the same good qualities needed for future plants.
She said the high price of buying hybrid seeds is compensated with the higher yields, which has more economic value to the farmer.
De Klerk vowed that the project is taking place under the watchful eye of competent inspectors of the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry.
Up to 200 hectares of land shall be secured which will also allow crop rotation practices.
Farming is a primary industry where a big and developed local economy can strive. Keeping tradition is important for heritage, but feeding a growing population requires modernised farming to be able to supply adequate volumes of products to satisfy needs. Traditional farming is not able to feed the growing population, she added.
The Pupkewitz group is the funding partner responsible for infrastructural development, capital equipment and management solutions.
WAD will provide the mobilisation and management of women co-operatives, which will be directly involved with the production of the hybrid seeds.