Harmonise private sector, Govt strategies - farmers

The Executive Council of the Namibia Agricultural Union has called for the government to harmonise economic strategies with those of the private sector so that an optimal environment for economic growth can be created.

The council raised this motion this week during its strategic planning session where it again committed itself towards the development of strategies in support of the 5th National Development Plan (NDP5) as well as the Harambee Prosperity Plan (HPP).

This comes at a time when treasury projects growth to be led by a recovery in the primary industries, particularly mining and agriculture. 

“The NAU’s main aims are the creation of an optimal environment for the growth of the agricultural economy, to ensure optimal production and thus create prosperity. 

"To reach these aims, it, however, is important that the roles and function of Government and the private sector in the economic development are defined,” said NAU’s Erika von Gierszewski.

Von Gierszewski also said for the commercial farming sector the surety about land and land ownership is a primary prerequisite for further investment as one of the cornerstones for economic growth.

The farmers’ union’s council has also called for the government to minimise its regulatory pressure on the local agricultural sector. 

“The NAU acknowledges that the agricultural economy must be regulated to a certain degree, but that this regulation must rather play a supportive role to give the private sector the opportunity to grow and develop rather than to set up restricting measures,” Von Gierszewski submitted. 

The NAU however also expressed its concern about the high salary expenditure of Government as part of the current budget which not necessarily always leads to good service from this sector.

The bloated public wage bill has been a major concern for politicians and economists as of late, and in his mid-year-budget review, the finance minister Calle Schlettwein shied away from addressing it.

This is despite the fact that government has expressed its commitment to “pro-growth” fiscal consolidation to heal the contracted economy. 

However, in his correspondence with The Villager this past week, the minister said tempering with the wage bill would add fire to the critical unemployment situation which the economy is grappling with already.

Treasury’s fiscal outlook projects growth for 2017 to be at 1.6%, a moderate improvement from 1.1 percent recorded a year ago and strengthened to 2.9 percent in 2018 and averaging around 3.7 over the MTEF. 

Von Gierszewski said further concerns of the NAU are the increase in crime which not only influences the agricultural sector negatively but also other sectors such as the tourism sector.

This concern also comes at a time when a tourist reportedly died in a car accident at Hosea Kutako International Airport, as confirmed by Namibian Marshall Ranger Sheriff Sean Naude. 

Meanwhile, the Livestock Producers Organisation (LPO) has indicated that the first agriculture is already contributing largely to value addition and employment opportunities.

Agriculture provides employment opportunities to 27% of the active workforce in Namibia.

In preparation for a larger meeting later this year, LPO’s management said a healthy meat industry should have among other things, policy surety and trust, internationally competitive industry, a joint understanding of value addition and protection and improvement of natural resources.