Agriculture minister Alpheus !Naruseb’s rallying call for farmers to get ready for the Chinese beef market after his visit to China has been met by criticism by those that are being blacklisted for defaulting on loans.
If !Naruseb’s words are anything to go by, the Chinese have raised green-flags for Namibian beef to start getting in but this will likely see a number of previously disadvantaged farmers losing out as their farms face repossession.
The minister was asked when the exports will be made and he said that obstacles to the Chinese beef market are done away with and the ball is now in the court for farmers to ready themselves for the 1.4 billion market.
The agreement on the export of beef to China was in fact endorsed way back in 2011, and !Naruseb said the stakeholders to the agreement had been initially ready only for a lambskin disease outbreak to kill the momentum.
The outbreak necessitated on the request from China for Namibia to relook the terms of the agreement which ended up taking time as certain guarantees needed to be given.
But the minister has said, “That has now been sorted out and that is why we have been able to put pen to paper.”
“We had a significant delegation from the Agriculture sector in China and from the NCCI. Government is playing a facilitating role in order for trade to flourish between the two nations,” he said.
The minister said he wished that beef exports from Namibia start making way to China before the president flies back again this coming September.
“Now we should be able to export beef to the People’s Republic of China when there is a visit of our state president in September. But that’s my wish, that’s my dream. But eventually when things will fall in place by then, we have to wait and see. But from our side we shall do whatever it takes to be ready,” he said.
But his message for readiness has been met with criticism from affected farmers that have been blacklisted by Agribank for defaulting on loans.
Speaking to The Villager, one of their leadership said government was supposed to have first protected them from having farms repossessed first before striking such deals.
“At the end of the day, how do you sign an agreement that needs production and you come back home, the people who must produce for this market are fighting to keep hold of the land? That is very contradicting,” he said.
The farmers continue to stamp that they have not refused to pay their loans but need to be assisted from the problems of drought, removal of the debt collectors, delisting from the black list and bailed out to come to a point when they can honor their loans.
“We need to protect farmers that are there, we need to assist them in order for them to be productive for the market that you have signed and if you want to take back the land from the farmers, the one that buys them, is he or she not going to be in the same predicament?” he said.