The Naute Irrigation Scheme in the //Kharas region is still without power after electricity was cut by the Namibia Power Corporation (NamPower) for debt of N$4 million two weeks ago.
The power cut is said to be exposing date produce worth millions to the risk of rotting in the absence of power for cold storage facilities.
However, Namibia Industrial Development Agency (Nida) spokesperson Wessel !Nanuseb said there is no major need for power currently.
“Workers are currently still coming to work. But as there is no harvesting taking place right now, neither production that can be hampered, the need for power is not major. However, we are doing everything in our power to have the power restored to the irrigation scheme,” said !Nanuseb.
The irrigation scheme produces grapes and dates for international and local markets. It is managed by Nida, established under the Ministry of Industrialisation and Trade, to foster industrial development, youth empowerment and entrepreneurship development, investment facilitation and attraction, export-oriented industrial growth and import substitution.
Currently, the scheme only has an export market for grapes with Rainbow Exporters, a South African marketing company, for a consortium of fruits trading on international markets and none for the dates.
The dates are currently only for the local market.
Last Monday, after one week without power, the company moved about 74 tonnes of dates worth over a million dollars to pack-houses to avoid rotting.
“Dates from the last harvest season were moved to pre-cooler and a pack-house from containers to mitigate against fungal development,” said !Nanuseb.
It has been widely reported in the local media that Nida has been facing financial and operational challenges across its business subsidiaries, including 148 industrial estates, tourism centres and small and medium enterprise (SME) business parks across the country, housing about 1 080 enterprises.
In June, The Namibian reported that Nida was owed a total of N$89 million, mainly in rent arrears, by a total of 1 057 active and vacated tenants.
Industrialisation and trade minister Lucia Iipumbu has ordered that the money be recovered.
“The minister’s intervention has resulted in the collection of N$4 million thus far, which would help Nida to address its operation and financial challenges,” noted a statement from the ministry.
This has also resulted in the eviction of non-complying tenants and the recruitment of new occupants in their place, generating income for Nida,” the statement read.
However, !Nanuseb said the irrigation farm can sustain itself, but has only been facing challenges in terms of re-entering the international market for dates.
He highlighted high utility bills, high production input costs, strict export markets, low produce prices and limited resources to meet some of Nida’s farming obligations.
“Our monthly bill to NamPower is approximately N$350 000. The scheme is self-sustainable if we can re-enter international markets, where our produce fetches the highest yield in prices. We have had challenges with securing international marketing agencies,” said !Nanuseb.
NamPower spokesperson Tangeni Kambangula has previously said the company cannot share information about their clients with third parties.
However, !Nanuseb confirmed the power cut due to accrued debt with NamPower over the last two years.
“Yes, it is affirmative that power has been suspended at the Naute Irrigation Scheme for a N$4 million debt we have with NamPower,” said !Nanuseb.
Source : Namibian