AgriBusDev to seek private investor for Orange River Irrigation Project

AgriBusDev to seek private investor for Orange River Irrigation Project
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The Agricultural Business Development Agency (AgriBusDev) will have to go into a public-private partnership to secure funds to develop the Orange River Irrigation Project (ORIP) at Aussenkehr.
This was said by AgriBusDev Managing Director, Petrus Uugwanga during a meeting with employees and small-scale farmers here on Thursday.
ORIP is one of the 11 green schemes managed and overseen by the agency. The other green schemes are situated in the Omusati, Kavango East and West, Zambezi and Hardap regions.
“We have consulted the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry and the AgriBusDev board and they have approved us acquiring a private investor to further develop the project.
We will advertise the tenders at the beginning of March,” said Uungwanga.
He said the private investor will be expected to develop the land for the project to generate income on the 600 hectares the company owns. Currently ORIP only uses 156 hectares, where grapes, dates, butternuts and watermelons are grown.
Uugwanga said central government does not have the funds to develop the project, adding that with the current economic downturn, outside assistance is needed to save the project.
The MD further urged employees at ORIP to work hard to boost the cash flow while they look for someone to invest.
“Let us work hard, let us plant more vegetables that we can sell to increase our cash flows, I know it is difficult because sometimes you receive your salaries late or not on time but in the midst of the difficulties we must find opportunities,” he urged.
The small-scale farmers welcomed the idea as they said they struggle to manage their farms because of a lack of funds.
“We can’t even afford to buy fertilisers or chemicals and this compromises the quality of the produce,” said one of the farmers who spoke to this news agency.
There are 18 small-scale farmers who grow grapes, dates and vegetables on 70 hectares at the project, while 86 hectares are used by ORIP.