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Youth horticultural projects don’t bring in anything

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THE Ministry of Sports, Youth and National Service has revealed that its youth empowerment horticulture projects are not profitable due to a lack of accountability.

In 2020, the ministry, through its affiliates the National Youth Service (NYS) and the National Youth Council (NYC), made available N$1 million to set up greenhouses for horticultural production in the 14 regions.

The projects aimed to create income for young people and improve their standard of living, while contributing to the country’s food security.

However, NYS spokesman Brian Prince told The Namibian yesterday that hopes of generating revenue from these projects have not materialized since their inception, although the products have been sold in the regions.

“What we understood is that some regions sold products, but did not count the sales, which makes it difficult to talk about profit. However, to move forward, we have [put] measures in place to enable accountability,” he said.

Prince further said that the projects are still in their early stages and have had their own share of challenges, such as pests, availability and payment for water used for irrigation.

Other challenges are the question of who owns the land on which the project is located, repairs and maintenance of the irrigation system, and the engagement of beneficiaries.

Six volunteers per region manage the projects and they are eligible for a monthly allowance of 500 Namibian dollars each.

However, some of the volunteers who spoke to The Namibian yesterday noted that they had not received their monthly allowances since October last year.

“We only received our allowances for the months of August and September. The project manager does not even explain to us why we have not received our indemnities. Other volunteers have since given up,” said the volunteers who wished to remain anonymous.

Regarding the delay in the payment of allowances, Prince explained that the project managers were responsible for ensuring that a monthly attendance register, a report of income and expenses, a report of all expenses incurred for the reporting period and monthly bank statements be submitted to the head office, which they failed, to do.

“As such, a note has been issued indicating that from the end of October 2021, monthly allowances will only be paid when these requirements are met. These measures are put in place for accountability purposes and, essentially, to achieve the objectives of the project,” he said.

He added that only Omaheke and Omusati regions have complied with the guidelines and have been paid. The other regions did not comply.

“NYC will forward payment as soon as they comply with the directive,” he said.