Horticulture producers want Government subsidies
RUNDU – Small-scale horticulture farmers in the Kavango Region have appealed to the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry to consider introducing horticulture subsidies and other schemes similar to what is being done for grain production.
Speaking during an information-sharing meeting between Minister of Agriculture John Mutorwa and Green Scheme managers and horticulture producers at Rundu on Wednesday, horticulture producer Rafael Kampanze said they feel left out in terms of various Government subsidies.
He called on Mutorwa to consider introducing such benefits, saying the horticulture farmers also need Government’s support in order to increase food production.
Mutorwa agreed that horticulture producers do need assistance from Government, similar to that provided for the production of grain. The assistance to grain producers includes subsidised ploughing services, improved seeds as well as weeding services.
Mutorwasaid he presented the horticultural producers’ concerns to the Namibian Agronomic Board some time back, but is yet to receive any feedback.
Noting the fact that horticulture farmers who produce perishable products are faced with a lack of storage facilities, he said it was against this background that Government decided to construct fresh produce hubs for the storage, processing and packaging of such products.
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 last year.
During that visit, small-scale farmers there said they felt neglected by the government because they were not benefitting 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 horticulture products.
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 is in the form of technical advice.
The lack of fertiliser subsidies, they say, has resulted in low crop yields due to poor soil fertility.
Pohamba at the time assured the farmers that he would look into their concerns, with the assistance of the Agriculture Minister.
The Salem Irrigation project small-scale farmers grow products such as cabbages, tomatoes, onions and carrots. – Nampa