January 16, 2014
WINDHOEK – Workers at the Kalimbeza rice project are currently busy harvesting two rice varieties which survived last year’s heavy flooding in the Zambezi Region, which also left many villagers displaced.
Speaking to New Era this week, Patrick Kompeli, the agricultural research technician in the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry said they are harvesting Irga and Angola short rice varieties, which will be ready for the market around March and April.
The two rice varieties were planted last year September on a 30-hectare piece of land. Since they are still engaged in harvesting, he could not give the exact tonnage harvested so far from the fields for Irga and Angola. Kompeli could also not shed light on the exact tonnage lost to floods.
Kompeli explained that other rice is also being planted over 10 hectares. “We are busy planting the tall variety which is Supa and it will be ready for harvest around May and June. However, the rice we harvested last year has been completely sold out,” Kompeli said.
Asked whether there is enough water to sustain the rice, he said the project has enough water pumps for the fields. Regarding accommodation, he said the workers have since last year October moved into the 14 houses built for them. Previously workers at the project, situated 40 km east of Katima Mulilo, shared single-quarter rooms, while others travelled long distances to and from Katima Mulilo for work.
“The only thing that is not complete is the office complex which still has to be powered. The new rice milling machine has also not yet been installed. We are waiting for Nored to come and put up a new transformer. I do not know when exactly they will be coming, hopefully soon. We are currently using the old milling machine,” he said.
During the 2011/2012 financial year money was allocated to the project for infrastructural expansion. A total of N$14 million was budgeted for the construction of the 14 houses, while N$28 million was budgeted for the construction of the warehouse and office complex.
The Kalimbeza project currently grows three varieties of rice, namely, Supa, Irga and Angola. The project covers a total area of 222 hectares, of which 30 hectares is under production.
It was declared a national project by President Hifikepunye Pohamba in 2009, indicating its potential to boost food security and assist with poverty reduction and was jointly implemented by the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry and the University of Namibia (Unam) in 2007.
A research laboratory, which is being built at the rice project, is expected to be named after the late Professor Luke Kanyomeka to honour his memory. The laboratory will be used for research and experimentation on rice production.
The late Kanyomeka, who was instrumental in spearheading the establishment of the project, died in a Windhoek hospital in June 2011 after a short illness. Minister of Agriculture, Water and Forestry John Mutorwa proposed in 2011 during Pohamba’s visit to the project that the new laboratory be named after Kanyomeka, who was often referred to as ‘Dr Rice’.
By Albertina Nakale