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Once fully operational, the envisaged 5,000-hectare irrigation scheme at Neckartal Dam, on the outskirts of Keetmanshoop, will provide sufficient produce for not only the domestic market but exports as well.

The government invested N$5 billion in the construction of the Neckartal Dam, making it the biggest investment the government has ever made in the ||Kharas Region.

The Minister of Agriculture, Water, and Land Reform, Carl Schlettwein, held an engagement with stakeholders on the envisaged development plans of the Neckartal Dam.

"So we must aim at exporting the surplus after we have satisfied the domestic market, and I think that is an important consideration because it speaks to what choices of crops to plant. Where do we have markets? Which ones are the best-paying markets? What are the commodities that we want to export? And are there processing abilities to develop a further value chain based on the raw materials that we have? So those elements are a must, and they all form part of the planning phase of the second phase."

The Neckartal Dam, which is now the biggest dam in the country, has the capacity to hold up to 850 million cubic liters of water.

"We use the existing green scheme model and try to translate it to Neckartal, and the existing green scheme model is that you have one large agricultural operator and then you have a few medium-sized farming operations and a number of small-scale farming operations attached to the same green scheme, and the principal plan is that the large operator can support the medium and small operators through using its economic leverage by getting fertilizers, fuel, power, and water to the irrigation fields at a favorable price."

||Kharas Governor Aletha Frederick says the region will become an agricultural hub that will not only ensure food security but also provide much-needed employment opportunities for many.

"The new dam will also have a positive impact on tourism and the economy in Keetmans and surrounding areas. In the Karas region, agriculture is the primary economic sector, and together with tourism and fishing, it employs almost 30 percent of the population. Therefore, many people are waiting to benefit from the effects of the Neckartal dam, which is highly capable of transforming the economy of the South and creating opportunities for recovery and growth."

Schlettwein also visited the Naute Dam Green Scheme near Keetmanshoop.

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NBC Digital News

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Natangwe Jimmy