Two tractors per crop constituency

27 March 2019 | Agriculture

While subsistence farmers are currently producing sufficient maize and mahangu, which they are struggling to sell to the agriculture ministry, the ministry went ahead and procured 50 tractors worth N$21.8 million to boost productivity.

The agriculture ministry's executive director, Percy Misika, said the aim was to have at least two tractors per constituency in the crop-growing regions. They would be used for ploughing fields and transporting grain to mills.

Last year the ministry procured 50 tractors, adding to the existing fleet of 132, at a cost of N$21.8 million, to be used for the Dry Land Crop Production Programme.

The programme is implemented in the crop-growing regions of Kavango East, Kavango West, Zambezi, Kunene North, Omusati, Oshana, Oshikoto, Ohangwena, Otjozondjupa and Omaheke.

The programme is aimed at increasing food production and enhancing household food security.

The agriculture ministry tasked the Agro Marketing and Trading Agency (AMTA) to buy surplus grain from farmers in order to build up the national strategic food reserve.

Misika said millers committed to buying up all the mahangu, provided that the ministry made funds available to AMTA to subsidise the transport of grain from the collection points to the mills.

“The procurement of the additional tractors is to achieve the target ratio of at least two tractors per constituency in the crop-growing regions. The new tractors are to supplement the old fleet.

“Moreover, the ministry also made budgetary provision for the transportation of mahangu from various collection points to the milling facilities through AMTA,” said Misika.

“For clarity's sake: last year the millers committed to buy up all the mahangu during the 2018/19 marketing season, provided that the ministry gave funds to AMTA for subsidising the transport costs of the grain.

“Unfortunately, the millers later on reneged on the commitment to buy up all the grain. As a result, some mahangu was not sold. However, the ministry is implementing measures to ensure that AMTA buys up the remaining mahangu.”

Misika said all the maize produced in the crop-growing regions was bought by the millers.

He said at the moment, only mahangu lacked a formal market.

“As explained above, the ministry implemented measures through AMTA to buy up surplus marketable mahangu grain. To achieve this, the Namibia Agronomic Board (NAB) closed the borders for the importation of mahangu with immediate effect, until all the mahangu grain registered for selling in the formal market is absorbed by AMTA and willing millers,” Misika said.

ILENI NANDJATO

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