Interest in local rice balloons
The Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry decided to embark upon the commercial production of rice after consumers showed interest in the Kalimbeza Rice Project.
According to Ben Malima, deputy director of Plant Production Research at the Agriculture Ministry, said that the feasibility of growing rice locally, has been proven and that the increasing interest from the public has motivated the Ministry to embark upon commercial production.
Speaking to the Economist this week, Malima said that 60 tons of rice has been produced during the 2011/12 cropping season by the project.
Production is expected to increase when the off season cultivation is undertaken in July.
To increase production the Ministry is embarking on a process of allocating land to small scale farmers who are interested in growing rice. The project is growing three types of rice which are Supa, Angola and Igra which is a Brazilian rice grain.
Malima said that the three rice types underwent evaluation to see which one is most suitable for consumption.
The Supa rice grain which resembles the popular Tastic brand, has proven to be hard to cook. More research is still being done on the other rice grains.
According to preliminary studies, the first production yielded 5.8 to 8.5 tonnes of rice – production was so high that it even passed the average production of rice in all major rice producing countries in the world.
Though the project is considered a solution to Namibia’s food crisis, the project faces major constraints. Malima said that the project is experiencing setbacks with the production as it is lacking storage infrastructure, as well as equipment and human capacity.
“The government trains people to assist with the project and they run away when they find greener pastures and having to replace them is always a setback,” he explained.
Malima further said that the Ministry is looking for companies that will be responsible for the packaging,branding and distribution of the rice.