Agriculture in dire need for growth- NAU President
Namibia Agricultural Union president, Ryno van der Merwe said the country’s agricultural sector is in dire need for growth yesterday at the kick-start of the agric-outlook conference.
He said agriculture can only grow if it is profitable and that investments to improve the productivity of land are required to improve production per hectare.
The veteran farmer also called for policy surety in terms of land, a theme that resonated with the conference.
He disclosed that the sector, last year alone, had made some N$7.5 billion while net exports in cattle, sheep, goats, charcoal, grapes and trophy hunting had made N$5.77 billion.
However, Merwe said, “Net importers grew while net exporters did not all perform to expectations.”
Growth and investment took place in all these industries that improved diversification and reduced risk, said the NAU president adding that agric-export industries sustain at least 31 000 permanent employees with 150 000 dependents.
He urged delegates to discuss what the opportunities for growth were, identify obstacles and as well as how the sector could develop for future growth.
Standard Bank chief executive officer, Vetumbuavi Mungunda who is also a farmer said agric-policies ought to be reviewed and should be aligned with key stakeholders.
He said the sector’s contribution to the economy had declined from 8% to 7.5% at independence but had since gone down to a present 3.5%.
He added that poor productivity had affected rural development and giving the domino effect to urban migration.
“Why has agriculture gone down? How can we make it better for rural people on the farms? We need innovation in agriculture policy development. We don’t need restrictive policies because they restrict someone from doing something,” he said to applause.
Mungunda advised farmers to meet government on the table and respond to its call to reduce poverty in terms of land and should seek ways of how to help the government in that endeavor.
“That is important so that when we talk to each other, we don’t scream at each other,” he added.
The Mangetti Farmers’ Association’s Thomas Ndiwakalunga also called for partnerships between farmers and those north of the red-line in order to come to their rescue as far as viability is concerned.
“The Mangetti Farmers’ Association is desirous in enhancing the accessibility on the use of superior genetic to upgrade the standard of livestock products. This upgrading needs the right breeders for our livestock. This will help our cattle to find their way to any available market.”
“For the real Ovambo traditional man, the cattle must have a name, longhorns, sharp horns for the bull and cattle are being kept longer for weddings and funerals.”
“For this man land is second to livestock. He can buy a lot of cattle even if he does not have any single plot to keep them. This type of man needs a serious paradigm shift in order to change and adapt to the eminent modern farming techniques.”
“It is our hope that you can help us find a remedy, the one experience that will create a right mindset. Culturally, our people believe in seeing much more than on hearing. A good practice with impressive results will help us to arrive at the right paradigm shift,” he said.