5.9 million hectares secured

President Hage Geingob has revealed that over 1000 previously disadvantaged Namibians have secured 5.9 million hectares of land, which has maintained 6000 jobs.

He said this while speaking at the inauguration of the Agricultural bank of Namibia (Agribank)’s renovated head office last week. The president said Agribank has contributed about 40 per cent of the national target of 15 million hectares of farmland ownership to previously disadvantaged persons.

Agriculture has been identified as one of the key priority sectors to achieve high and sustained economic growth, according to the National Development Plan IV (NDP4). This sector is supposed to open up opportunities to Namibians for employment in order to assist in improving income equality.

“Agribank, therefore, has a pivotal role to play in ensuring that Namibians, especially those who have historically been on the fringes of the economy, are given the financial means to participate in this key sector and propel the national economy towards the targets set out in Vision 2030. Over the past several months, Government has set out several concrete and well-defined objectives aimed at tackling poverty, as well as enhancing economic growth”, Geingob said.

He added that in keeping with the concept of “No Namibian should feel left out”, Agribank is to be commended for doing their part in ensuring that Namibians are able to access affordable funding in order to participate in the agricultural sector.

The Namibia Statistics Agency (NSA) released their report in November 2015 for the Communal Sector of the Namibia Census of Agriculture, which was conducted during 2013/14.

The last census was carried out some 20 years ago, and hence there was a need to update the information on agricultural production. The census collected data on the areas under crop production, the output in metric tonnes (mt) for the various crops, the number of people involved, the number of livestock, the use of the crop and many more indicators.

The information is important for policy planning, but also for economic statistics such as the National Accounts and the Gross Domestic Product. Millet is the mostwidely planted crop covering an area of 421,213 hectares, followed by maize (34,991 ha) and sorghum (7,043 ha).

Yield-wise, maize is leading with 1,600 kg per ha, followed by sorghum (1,240kg/ha) and millet with 970 kg/ha. The yield per hectare for millet and sorghum contrasts with figures from the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry, which reported an average yield of 284kg per ha for both crops in its 2014/15 Medium-term Plan.

In addition, Namibia experienced a drought during 2013/14, which would have resulted in a below-average yield. More research and analysis needs to be done to explain this striking difference. The vast majority of farmers rely on local seeds. 18 per cent of millet farmers use improved seeds, and 1 per cent hybrid seeds.

The shares of maize farmers are 16 per cent and 1 per cent, respectively. Of those farmers who apply fertilisers, 77 per cent apply organic fertilisers for millet and 75 per cent for sorghum, compared to 56 per cent for maize.

Unfortunately, the census did not ask under Farm Management whether farmers applied Conservation Agriculture or Conservation Tillage methods. This would have allowed for a comparison of average yields between the conservation methods and the traditional method of soil preparation, and could have provided some policy directions.

There is also a need to reduce post-harvest losses for all crops, but in particular for wheat. 42 per cent of wheat production is lost after Harvest, compared to 16 per cent of sorghum, 11 per cent of millet and 7 per cent of maize. The high losses for wheat and the differences in post-harvest losses also warrant further analysis.