Namibia: Govt Too Broke for Neckartal Dam Irrigation Scheme

AGRICULTURE minister Calle Schlettwein says the government has no money to set up the 5 000 hectare irrigation projects which were part of the bigger plan in constructing the Neckartal Dam.

The government spent more than N$5,5 billion on the construction of the dam, which was specifically meant to accelerate agricultural activities in the //Kharas region and contribute to the country's food security.

After its construction was completed last year, the Neckartal dam became Namibia's largest dam, with the capacity of more than 800 million cubic metres.

According to Schlettwein, the Neckartal Dam project was to be developed in two phases.

The first phase was the construction of the dam, while the second phase was the design and construction of an irrigation project covering about 5 000 hectares.

Schlettwein said the plan to construct irrigation projects will not be implemented due to financial constraints, since the government is the sole financier.

The government is supposed to first identify, clear and fence off the land before developing irrigation infrastructure for small and medium scale farmers.

"Due to the economic conditions the country has been facing, the government could not proceed with the development of the irrigation scheme," he said.

Schlettwein made these remarks in responce to questions in the National Assembly last week.

The minister added that another impediment to the establishment of the irrigation project was the lack of suitable soil for irrigation in the //Kharas region.

As a result, Schlettwein said the ministry has now identified three farms as possible sites for developing the irrigation project.

These are farm Schlangkopf measuring 1 900 hectares, farm Dagbreek (1 700ha) and farm Schaapplaats (370ha).

He said an additional 1 030 hectares of suitable irrigation land is still needed because the government's ultimate goal is to identify and develop 5 000ha around the dam.

"We will continue to identify additional land in the surrounding areas of the dam to reach a target area of 5 000 hectares required in order to maximise the utilisation of the harvested water," he said.

The water reticulation system to the green scheme irrigation project has not been put in place, the minister said.

"Off-take from the balancing dam to the irrigation plots will only be developed during the second phase of the project, which is the construction of the irrigation scheme," he said.

The dam also has a potential to generate 3,5 MV of hydro-power.

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