By:Josef Kefas Sheehama
At least 70% of Namibians depends on agriculture for employment, income and food security. Yet the value added to the sector in the third quarter (Q3) of 2022 was about N$3.2 billion in nominal terms, representing 6.4% of GDP, says the Namibia Statistics Agency.
The growth rate of the agriculture sector has declined to 1.6% during 2022 due to inadequate infrastructure, alternate employment opportunities in other industries or service the sector, as well as an increase in casualisation of employment in agriculture.
Agriculture plays an important role in the process of economic development and can contribute significantly to household food security. In order to improve the agricultural sector the government provides more funding for agricultural tertiaries to carry out research on all areas of agricultural production.
This will lead to more exports and improvement in the competitiveness of Namibia agriculture production in international markets.
The Agribank should also come up with a stable policy for loan disbursement to farmers at a reasonable interest payback.
As we know, most people around the world depend on agriculture, so we’ll need to set up a potential programme for youth farming to guarantee for the future.
Let us also include payment for environmental services to the youth engaged in sustainable agriculture in rural parts.
Visits, experience sharing, learning from fields, exchanges is a must if we are to sustain the efforts at global scale.
The current strategies of the government are ineffective. For economic growth you ultimately need to get people working, but not just working, working in a useful way that not only produces useful things but also is innovating and developing. You need to encourage the expansion of industry but also encourage innovation to increase productivity.
The ministry of agriculture, water and land reform has initiated the green schemes and the national horticulture development initiative (NHDI) aimed at increasing local agricultural production. The green schemes encourage the development of irrigated agronomic production with a target of reaching approximately 27000 hectares.
The government acknowledged that the green schemes had not met many of its initial goals, with less than 9000 hectares under irrigation and several of the schemes struggling financially.
The national development plans (NDPs) and the Harambee Prosperity Plans (HPPs) set out a broad vision of eliminating poverty and reducing inequality by 2030. We need to adopt new strategies aimed at sustainably increasing agricultural production which require significant increases in investment, as well as innovation and collaboration among all stakeholders.
The World Economic Forum declared, “Agriculture serves as a platform to build collaboration among stakeholders to achieve a vision of agriculture as a driver of food security, environmental sustainability and economic opportunity. The governments, business, farmers and civil society organisations have embraced and begun to implement this vision at global, regional and country levels”.
The Namibian government should fast-track land reform, with the goal of ensuring that property is priced according to article 16 of the Namibia Constitution. The “willing seller, willing buyer” basis, which required both parties to enter into any deal voluntarily has been cited as a key reason for slow progress in land reform.
We cannot talk about betterment of GDP whilst inequity in land ownershipand access that resulted from apartheid still needs to be addressed, and so far the land reform programme has not substantially altered the agriculture sector.
Policymakers responsible for agriculture, financial and macroeconomic policies need to establish interactions with the leading sub-sector intermediaries.
This interaction helps establish and enhance knowledge bases in the agricultural sector regarding marketing, financing, risk management and technical expertise, all of which are critical elements in enabling agricultural finance.
This can be said to be Namibia’s position and explains why the country’s agriculture contribution to GDP stands at 6.4% whilst it is Namibia’s biggest employer of labour.