Decreased maize prices worry Sikondo irrigation project

22 Apr 2017 12:50pm
SIKONDO, 22 APR (NAMPA) - The Sikondo irrigation scheme in the Kavango West Region is in need of N.dollars 1,2 million to buy additional resources to raise the pH levels of the soil.
Soil pH or soil reaction is an indication of the acidity or alkalinity of the soil. The lower the pH levels, the more acidic the soil. This could lead to big losses in production.
In an interview with Nampa on Friday on the sidelines of the familiarisation visit by Vice-President Nickey Iyambo to Kavango West, Sikondo Project Manager Rustie Kleynhans explained that the pH levels of the soil on the farm are between 4.5 pH and 4.9 pH, which is low.
Preferably, it should be 6,1 pH and above.
“To rectify this, we need to mix limestone into the soil,” he said, adding that the project needs about two tonnes of limestone.
This they can buy from Tsumeb for N.dollars 1,2 million.
He pleaded with Minister of Agriculture, Water and Forestry John Mutorwa to intervene, perhaps by helping to pay for the limestone as not treating the soil could aggravate the financial constraints at the project.
Last year, the project recorded a turnover of N.dollars 22 million, most of which went toward the expenses incurred for the day-to-day running of the farm.
Kleynhans said some of the challenges the project experience include the huge overhead costs due to the increase in prices of fertilisers, chemicals, seeds and electricity.
About N.dollars 2,5 million is spent annually on fertilisers and N.dollars 2,6 million on electricity.
The project has been also affected by the decrease in maize prices.
The price of maize grain has dropped from N.dollars 6 100 per tonne last year to N.dollars 4 780 per tonne this year, which Kleynhans said is a great concern as maize is one of the commodities that generates a high income for the green scheme.
The Sikondo irrigation project is in the Kapako Constituency, which used to be one of the most poverty stricken constituencies in Kavango West.
Over 70 per cent of adults were unemployed before the Sikondo project was started.
Kleynhans said the project has undoubtedly improved the living standards of the people in the constituency, employing over 90 per cent of general workers and casual workers from the surrounding communities.
The irrigation project covers 830 hectares (ha), of which 580 ha is used for commercial production. The remaining 250 hectares are allocated to medium-scale farmers.
The farm employs approximately 120 casual workers every month and has 38 permanent staff members.
It produces crops such as wheat and maize and is also known for producing high quality tomatoes, potatoes, beetroot, onions, butternut and summer crops such as watermelon.
Iyambo is expected to visit all other green scheme projects and to conduct meetings with community members from both Kavango regions, as well as the hompas (kings) of various traditional authorities during his visit, which started Thursday and ends Tuesday.