Schlettwein dismisses Etunda conspiracies

• By Hilary Mare

MINISTER of Agriculture, Water and Land Reform Calle Schlettwein has dismissed with concern, conspiracies that have been circulating that Etunda Asparagus Plantation has a negative effect on rain.

Recently, claims that the weather station equipment at the plantation reduces the chances for rain in the Omusati region and that the asparagus plants themselves have a negative impact on rain have surfaced.

“Upfront I must say that these allegations are totally unfounded and border on ridiculousness,” Schlettwein said adding that the world over there are millions of weather stations with similar equipment in use and there is no scientific evidence that weather stations have a negative impact on rain patterns.

“In fact without weather stations we are deprived of measuring and predicting weather which is crucial for many aspects of our lives and livelihoods, especially in agriculture,” he further said.

Schlettwein was speaking last week at the official launch of agricultural equipment procured through the Namibia Agricultural Mechanisation and Seed Improvement Project (NAMSIP).

“The fact is that the asparagus plants need more water than is available through rain, which is why it is irrigated, to put more water on and to improve production. It would be totally senseless to reduce rain.

“We have an investment in agricultural production which brought about over 800 jobs, it earns Namibia significant foreign currency through its exports. Last but not least it produces food. It is enhancing the agricultural sector by being engaged in the whole value chain, form production to consumption with many of the links and the commensurate benefits being in Namibia. It is indeed doing what we have agreed in our Growth at Home Industrialisation Strategy. It is a good investment and it is giving benefits to our economy,” Schlettwein said.

He went on to warn: “We must refrain from trying to damage and destroy what is good for us. We must stop with this ridiculous misinformation; it is harmful to our people. In this case we risk putting into jeopardy more than 800 jobs that is 800 livelihoods of families.

“I fully support the efforts of Governor Endjala to ensure that the matter is put to rest and that we can continue with food production at Etunda,” he said further stating, “We should of course not be afraid of raising issues that may be of concern, but we must do it in an effort to improve, not to destroy. We as MAWLR stand ready to listen to you the farmers and your community when you have concerns. Please do not hesitate to engage us”.