THE awarding of a N$2 million fertiliser supply contract to Green Scheme projects by the Ministry of Agriculture to a company running a Green Scheme project itself has raised eyebrows.
KS Industries, owned by Wolfgang Parlmert and several partners, is a 30% shareholder in Shikunino Trading Enterprises, which runs the Ndonga Linena Green Scheme project in the Kavango Region.
The tender to supply fertilisers and seeds to the Ndonga Linena, Shadikongoro, Uvhungu-Vungu and Etunda Green Scheme projects was advertised in the local media two months ago.
According to Shikunino's website, “Ndonga Linena Farm is an irrigation scheme established by the government of Namibia to play [a] role in the Namibian agricultural sector. Shikunino Trading Enterprises (Pty) Ltd is operating this farm under a Green Scheme Irrigation Project Long-Term Agreement with the Government of Namibia through its Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry.”
KS Industries and Shikunino appear to operate from the same offices in Windhoek, as their telephone numbers are the same.
The board of Shikunino consists of Swapo Member of Parliament and former trade unionist Elifas Dingara as chairman, the Namibia Chamber of Commerce and Industry's Thomas Iindji, Hans Nghuxulifwa as managing director, businessman Salom Heita, Palmert, Immanuel Ithete and Johannes Shihepo.
The Ministry of Agriculture has defended its decision to give the fertiliser supply contract to KS Industry, saying the process was transparent.
A source accused the ministry of not knowing what they are doing.
“Why did they procure the supply of fertilisers of such high composition on sandy soil,” said the source, claiming that chemical fertilisers are not suitable for the type of soil on these projects.
KS Industries is a Windhoek-based plumbing company and they also supply goods across the country. They import the fertilisers that they provide to Green Scheme projects.
Julia Nambili, an agronomist in the Ministry of Agriculture, said 23 companies submitted quotations. “Following due diligence assessment the ministry selected four Namibian companies to supply various seed and fertiliser products to the Green Scheme projects,” she said.
She said there was no conflict of interest in Shikunino being a service provider to Green Scheme projects and also running its own Green Scheme project.
The ministry has also been criticised for opting for chemical fertilisers in the Green Scheme projects instead of organic fertilisers.
“MAWF is also unaware of any local fertiliser manufacturer who could satisfy Green Scheme projects' fertiliser requirements in quantity and type of fertiliser and/or seeds needed,” Namibili said.
Environmentalists do not support the use of chemical fertilisers in sandy soils because the chemicals drain out quickly, compared to long-lasting organic fertilisers.
Chemical fertilisers are inorganic materials of synthetic origin which are added to the soil to sustain plant growth, while organic fertilisers are animal manure, composted plant materials or animal byproducts such as bonemeal.
The Ministry of Agriculture's Nambili said the ministry is cautious in choosing fertilisers for each Green Scheme farm and considers the soil type of particular farm before deciding on the type of fertiliser to be used.
The ministry, she said “subscribes to sustainable use of both chemical and kraal manure or any other available organic fertiliser in order to improve the soil condition as well as achieving the targeted crop yield”.
The Namibian is reliably informed that there are various projects around the country that use organic fertilisers successfully.
Nambili said that organic fertilisers will not be able to satisfy long-term Green Scheme projects' demand because of their size.
KS Industries did not respond to questions posed to them since last week.