By: Staff Writer
Agriculture Water Land and Reform Minister, Carl Schlettwein, inaugurated the new Namibian Agronomic Board on Thursday.
Chief Executive of Bokomo Namibia, Hubertus Hamm, has been named chairperson, with former chair Michael Iyambo outgoing.
Marina Muller (retained), will serve as Vice-Chairperson, while the other members are Gerhard P. Engelbrecht, Peter Kawana, Salomo Mbai, Jacob Hamutenya, Sonja Molebugi, Maria Pogisho, Ruthy N Masake and Violet Simataa.
During the inauguration, the Agriculture Minister said that while promoting the development and growth of the entire Namibian agronomic sector value chains, from production, processing, marketing and distribution, the Board has to ensure that such growth and development is inclusive and empowering of the previously disadvantaged Namibians, “youth and women, and very importantly, food must remain affordable.”
Schlettwein further said that over 70% of the population depends on agriculture for their livelihood, whilst at the same time Namibia is ranked as the second most skewed economy with a great inequality income distribution.
According to the Minister, agriculture and specifically the agronomic sector offers the best economic opportunities for job creation, improved livelihoods, and youth employment.
“We need to focus our support on the thousands of small-scale horticultural and agronomic producers to improve their productivity, the links to and access to well-paying markets,” he said.
He further said that only then they will successfully bring about less inequality with an improved standard of living.
According to him, when they consider support programs for food production it is important to remember that they are dealing with a basic commodity that is essential for life and therefore the affordability of food must be pivotal in their considerations.
He further added that the objectives of the Board are to promote the agronomic industry and to facilitate the production, processing, storage, and marketing of controlled products in Namibia, which are crops declared by the Minister, by notice in the Gazette, to be agronomic crops.
The declaration of agronomic crops has the intent to intervene in the specific crop value chains with multiple objectives.
They include improving production towards self-sufficiency and beyond, developing support schemes for those producers, maintaining national food security, and keeping food accessible and affordable.
The powers of the Board include all the fiduciary powers required to manage a statutory regulator, and specifically powers to manage declared agronomic products and the respective value chains.
“In exercising these powers the Board has the responsibility, particularly in the context of the Namibian economy. We are still characterised as an economy that consumes what it does not produce and produces what it does not consume,” he said.