MINISTER of Agriculture, Water and Land reform, Calle Schlettwein has stated that currently the establishment of an irrigation scheme at the Neckartal Dam has been put on hold because such a project is not tenable under the current economic conditions.
Schlettwein made these remarks in response to questions posed to him in the national assembly. Schlettwein stated that the first phase was the feasibility study, design, and construction of the Neckartal Dam which was completed last year (2020). He further added that the second phase is the feasibility study, design, and construction of a 5 000 hectares irrigation scheme of which the feasibility study and design was completed, however, due to the economic condition the country has been facing, the government could not proceed with the development of the scheme.
Schlettwein further explained that the irrigation scheme project entails that the government first identify land, clear the land, fence it off, and develop irrigation infrastructure for small and medium-scale components of the farm. He also noted that such a design will rely on the government to provide all financial resources required for the development of the medium and small-scale components.
In addition, Schlettwein stated that the soil suitable for the irrigation project is not in abundance in the subject area. The positioning of the irrigation project was therefore mainly dependent on the location of suitable soils and thus the ministry then, identified the following three distinct areas with suitable soils for irrigation development around Neckartal which include Farm Schlangkopf -1 900ha, Farm Dagbreek – 1 700ha, and Farm Schaapplaats – 370 ha.
An additional 1 030ha of suitable irrigation land is still needed to be confirmed because the ultimate goal is to identify and develop 5 000ha around the Neckartal Dam.
Schlettwein stated the ministry will continue to identify additional land in the surrounding area of the Neckartal Dam to reach a target area of 5000ha required in order to maximize the utilization of the harvested water.
“The water reticulation system to the green scheme irrigation project is currently not in place. However, water from the main dam to the balancing reservoir is in place. Off-take from the balancing dam to the irrigation plots will only be developed during the second phase of the project which is the construction of the irrigation scheme.” Schlettwein said.