08 Aug 2013 06:00
RUNDU, 08 AUG (NAMPA) The reconstruction of the Uvhungu-Vhungu dairy farm on the outskirts of Rundu has commenced, and the project is expected to be completed sometime next year.
The farm was closed by the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry in November 2009, resulting in the suspension of the supply of fresh and cultured milk, butter and cream to hospitals and two schools in the Kavango Region after the cows used on the farm were relocated to the Mashare Agricultural Development Institute (MADI).
The 150 cows were relocated as they were dying because they were not managed properly, and also in order to make way for the upgrading of the farm.
The processing equipment on the farm has started showing signs of deterioration, with the decline being most visible in areas like the milking parlour and the animal kraal.
The Permanent Secretary (PS) in the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry (MAWF), Joseph Iita stated when responding to questions put to him by Nampa that the ministry has set out a budget of N.dollars 100 million over a three-year period for the development of this dairy farm.
The project is expected to take three years to complete, starting July 2012 to an undetermined time in 2014, explained the MAWF Permanent Secretary.
He noted that most of the groundwork on the development of the dairy farm has commenced, and is progressing well.
According to the PS, the fenced boundary for the farm has been completed, while construction on earthwork and steel-shed structures is also in progress.
The work on infrastructure such as irrigation and electrical reticulation, plumbing and the water -treatment plant is currently in the tendering process, and should be completed by next March.
Meanwhile, Iita in July this year said in a media statement that when the project was transferred to the Ministry of Agriculture, it was observed that the technology there had become obsolete.
As a result, the ministry contracted JWE Consulting Engineering Company to carry out a feasibility study, and subsequently to redesign the dairy farm.
Some of the findings of that study were that the dairy farm lacked quality control products, and had outdated and dilapidated infrastructure, which rendered the production of milk uneconomical.
The study further showed that the cows were very old and needed to be replaced, while poor water quality and control in the factory and dairy parlour was also noted.
There was also a serious potential of water pollution by cattle manure in cases of flooding.
Debushing work on the 280 hectares of land on which the dairy farm will now be built, started last year.
The upgrading of the dairy section will include the extension of the existing irrigation area to be able to irrigate 142 hectares for fodder production.
The ministrys development plan is divided into three phases - phase one being the feasibility study and design; phase two being the actual construction; and phase three being the implementation of the management structure of the project and the procurement of heifers.
Once completed, Uvhungu-Vhungu will have two distinct production areas - the dairy farm and a crop-production section.
The new milking complex will consist of a milking parlour, cow and calf housing, feeding station and manure-handling facilities.
Since the closure of the dairy farm, residents in the vicinity of the dairy farm have been feeling the pinch as they were left with no choice but to walk about 10 kilometres to Rundu to purchase milk.
Before the closure, the dairy cows production declined, and they delivered only between 265 to 300 litres of milk per day, far less than the 1 000 litres of milk consumed per day in the region.
The Uvhungu-Vhungu irrigation project made headlines on several occasions last year amidst claims of poor production and management problems.