Farm Ondera On The Right Trajectory

16 May 2018 11:00am
By Edward Mumbuu
FARM ONDERA, 16 MAY (NAMPA) – Acquired in 2012 for the resettlement of disadvantaged communities, Farm Ondera now houses 500 families, has a school, a garden and about 252 heads of cattle. This has placed the community on the right trajectory towards self-sustenance.
The farm was procured by the government after several destitute people, including some members of the San community, found themselves on the periphery of Oshivelo in the Oshikoto Region, where some stayed in shacks and others in a cemetery due to displacement and shortage of land.
The farm was acquired under the Office of the Prime Minister through its division for marginalised communities, which now falls under the Office of the Vice President.
Farm Ondera is a combination of two farms - Ondera and Komeva. It is located about 70 kilometres north of Tsumeb.
When Nampa visited the farm recently, the crew was met by a sense of hope and empowerment which was evident in the eyes of its residents.
James Uerikua, the chief development planner in the Office of the Vice President, said the farm has come a long way.
“We started our first resettlement in 2013 when we relocated 130 households from Oshivelo. On average, each household here has around five members. Today we are sitting with 500 households at this very farm,” Uerikua told this agency.
He said the farm exemplifies where Namibia is in terms of development and where it wants to go, and the broadening of the economic cake.
The planner was quick to point out that despite an array of positive stories from the Farm Ondera project, there are shortcomings too.
One of the major success stories at the farm is the community garden, which is divided into 11 hectares for crop cultivation, while eight hectares are reserved for vegetable production. On the smaller portion of land, the community grows beans, tubers, tomatoes and other vegetables.
“As you know the rain has not been good as far as 2018 is concerned, but these mielies (maize) are ready for consumption,” said Uerikua while standing on the piece of cultivated land.
He added in 2015, the community sold 50 bags of maize for N.dollars 71 000.
The proceeds were deposited into a community bank account designated for commercial activities on the farm. It is amongst others used to procure farming equipment.
“What we produce here is for the community’s benefit for subsistence use and to consume at household level. Every week, a car is driven from here full of produce which is sold at Oshivelo, Tsumeb and as far as Grootfontein,” added Uerikua.
In terms of coordination, fishing giant Namsov Fishing Enterprises, came on board with a N.dollars 4 million injection into the Farm Ondera initiative and expertise to assist with the management of the farm.
“The purpose of this investment was to make sure the farm is developed to the next level,” noted Uerikua.
Namsov’s money was used to buy cattle and farming equipment.
In March alone, the community sold 40 oxen for N.dollars 200 000, which also went into their trust account.
Another milestone is the establishment of a school.
“When we relocated the community here, there was no school. Today we have a school that goes up to Grade 4 and kids here don’t have to go to Oshivelo or Ombili [a nearby farm] to attend school,” he further noted.
On the gloomy side of things, the farm faces a number of challenges. Chiefly, lions from the Etosha National Park that frequent the farm due to broken fences that resulted from a wild fire.
While acknowledging efforts towards the betterment of Farm Ondera, the school’s principal, Lena Nakatana, said they face numerous challenges, especially conflict with wildlife.
“Sometimes you find lions or leopards roaming around and these are just small kids walking to school,” she said.
Another predicament for Farm Ondera's residents is that there are no permanent health facilities and they only rely on health extension workers, Nakatana said.
In addition, land grabbing is challenging as members of neighbouring villages allocate land on the farm at their own discretion on the grounds that it was purchased by the government.
“Measures are being put in place to ensure that we address that within the realm of the legal frameworks that are in existence,” said Uerikua.
When Vice President Nangolo Mbumba visited Farm Ondera in March this year, he expressed great satisfaction with the progress and activities taking place on the farm.
Mbumba, however, was unimpressed by activities such as land grabbing and crime.
Additionally, Deputy Minister of Marginalised Affairs, Royal /Ui/o/oo, who formed part of the Mbumba delegation, was unhappy with the collective resettlement of San people on resettlement farms, while other Namibians are resettled as individuals.
“There is a concept of saying it’s a group farm. Why is it always the marginalised groups who are being grouped to make things difficult for them?” he asked at the time.
“Why can’t the marginalised, even just one of them, be given a full farm instead of group thing?”
Ten commercial farms have been acquired under the resettlement programme since 2005.
Meanwhile, six other communal villages have been established on which 400 households have been resettled, while the establishment of another four is underway.
A total of 600 cattle and 100 small livestock have been procured and allocated to these communities for farming purposes.
The three communities considered as marginalised are the San, Ovatue and Ovatjimba.