KEETMANSHOOP: Ten small-scale grape farmers along the Orange River in the Aussenkehr settlement who are being evicted by the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry (MAWF), say they will not move.
“The messenger of the court, Andrew Walters, was here, and he told us we should take our belongings out of the houses and vacate the plots before 12h00 today. But we will not vacate the plots because Government failed to fulfill its promises,” one of the farmers, Augustinus Haith said in a telephonic interview on Tuesday afternoon.
The farmers are part of the Orange River Irrigation Project (ORIP) that started in 2001. They were issued with the eviction notice last week, and were given a due date to vacate the plots and houses by Tuesday this week.
They claim that they are being evicted from the government vineyards after they decided to sell their produce to a Dutch-based company in 2010.This decision allegedly violates their agreement with the Agriculture Ministry that obliges them to sell their grapes to Cool Fresh Namibia (CFN), a service provider appointed by Government.
Haith told Nampa that Government promised them in 2001 that after three years, the plots they worked on would be handed over to them and they could then operate independently. For this reason, he said, they will not vacate the plots until Government fulfill its promise.
He further said they decided to sell their grapes to the Dutch company because they do not make a good profit with CFN.The grape farmers said they have nowhere to go.At 12h45 this afternoon, they remained put, saying Government can do whatever it can, but they will stay there.Aussenkehr is located some 24 kilometres from Noordoewer settlement along the Orange River.