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February 01, 2009

First harvest for Namibian rice project begins

by Reagan Malumo

The production of rice at Namibia's Kalimbeza Rice Project has reached commercial stage, with the first harvest underway. Up to 7 650 kilogrammes of rice have already been harvested, packed and await final processing.

The rice project was made feasible with the assistance of the University of Namibia (Unam) in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry. More than 50 hectares of land were set aside for the production of rice. The project is believed to be a turning point for Namibia’s food security situation, and can emerge to save the country from the global outcry of food insecurity.

Unam’s Associate Professor and Deputy Dean of the Faculty of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Professor Luke Kanyomeka, said the production of rice at the project would run throughout the year.

The project is also seen as a vital solution to the issue of unemployment, especially with the youth. So far, more than 200 Namibian youths are employed as casual workers on a daily basis to assist with weeding, harvesting and transplanting of rice at the project.

Kanyomeka confirmed that though most of the work at the project is being done manually, progress has so far been satisfactory. At the moment, harvesting is taking place on about four hectares of land that was planted in June, while transplanting takes place on another 21 hectares. According to Kanyomeka, another harvest will take place in less than six months.

“We are harvesting and transplanting at the same time to increase production. We are doing this to fast-track food security in Namibia,” explained Kanyomeka.

Meanwhile, a Japanese expert from the University of Nagoya in Japan, Suzuki Tetsuji, who has been working together with Unam in agricultural research, also confirmed that the project has the capacity to produce a very high yield of rice as compared to the average world rice yield. He said though the production of rice in Namibia is still at initial stages, he believes the future of Namibia in rice production is bright.

The Kalimbeza Rice Project is equipped with a rice production factory, where all processes of rice production are being done. Kanyomeka also explained the process of rice production: after harvesting the rice, a threshing machine separates the rice grains from the chaff just a few minutes after harvesting. The rice grains are then loaded onto the granary where they are transported in pipes to a grinding machine where a final product is received.

Kanyomeka explained that both thatch and chaff produced from rice can be used for animal consumption, whereas rice thatch can still be used for basket weaving.

Meanwhile, though rice production has been a major achievement at the project, Kanyomeka complained about wild birds that feed on rice that is ready for harvest, adding that this can affect the final yield.

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