Commercial farmers call for policy certainty to grow investments

Commercial farmers represented by the Namibia Agricultural Union have called for policy surety regarding land and property rights as well as local value addition and rural safety if investments are to grow.


 NAU said government was successful during the past 20 years to realise growth of net import industries such as vegetable, poultry, grain, yet the big challenge, however, is to bring about growth in the export industries (such as cattle, sheep, charcoal, SWAKARA, trophy hunting, grapes, etc.) which constitute 77% of the total agricultural income.


Export industries will not grow if government institutes export restrictions as is currently the case in the small stock industry, said the union.  

 The union also submitted that the most significant growth opportunities which were identified in the agricultural sector are addressing bush encroachment which gives the chance to double beef production, the investment in the expansion of irrigation from perennial rivers on the southern and northern borders and the realising of further import substitution by nett import industries.


“In contrast, the challenges are on how the mind-set of land users which limit growth, can be changed to bring about a drastic impact on bush thinning. Furthermore, the current economic policy has a negative impact on producer confidence and does not promote investments in agriculture,” said NAU.


Meanwhile, the Production Cost Index of the Namibia Agricultural Union (NAU), which determines the price paid by producers for a basket of inputs used on the farm, indicates that the annual Agri-inflation rate has increased.


It is currently 2.40% in the 2nd quarter of 2018.


The increase in Agri-inflation was caused by a 20.01% Year-on-Year increase in fuel prices.


 Fuel prices are expected to have a further impact on Agri-inflation because of a 40 cent per litre increase in fuel introduced at the beginning of September 2018.


 The Namibian Dollar has also weakened against the US dollar, which is anticipated to increase prices of imported products, and thus also influence the Agri-inflation.


The agricultural sector is constantly required to improve productivity, through cost savings, improved fertility, rangeland management, etc. to maintain profit margins.


During the past 13 years, cattle producers were required to improve its efficiency at 4.71%/annum to survive financially.


 Meanwhile, NAU will be hosting the Agricultural Outlook Conference on 10 October 2018 at the Safari Hotel and Conference Centre in Windhoek.


The main purpose of the conference is to create an opportunity for the agricultural sector in Namibia to discuss joint issues as well as to provide information to agricultural producers that can be expected regarding the agricultural economy, prices and markets in the future.


The main topic addressed this year is to develop ideas to fuel growth in the agricultural sector. If the primary sector is not growing, no additional jobs can be created to benefit the rural economy.


 Thus, emphasis will be on identifying low pending fruit in the livestock, agriculture, wildlife and other sectors that will spur future growth. This year's theme is, therefore "IGNITE GROWTH IN AGRICULTURE - The basis for job creation and value addition."