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By: Nghiinomenwa Erastus

Northern producers should unfold their hands, stop watching from the stand and participate in government livestock initiatives.

So ordered the Minister of Agriculture and Land Reforms, Calle Schlettwein, at the inception workshop in Omusati last week.

The workshops (conducted in all NCAs regions) inform livestock farmers about the government initiative towards improving the livestock sector through that project.

(It’s funded European Union, and farmers also have an option to suggest what exactly should be done to improve the sector.

The redline has divided the country for veterinary purposes and has also excluded northern producers from accessing better markets.

The Northern Communal Area (NCA) producers’ plight has heightened this year, for both the Meat Board and ministry of agriculture are being questioned.

“There is noise about the plight of livestock farmers in the NCA, yet when projects are introduced in the NCA for all farming communities to benefit, there is little, if at all, holding hands together as Namibians to make it a success”, he said

He said there is perhaps a perception or notion that the project should do everything “thus we fold our hands and just remain watchful?”.

Schlettwein indicated the country could not continue with business as usual, and the producers need a complete paradigm shift, including himself, to change farm management at the producers’ level.

He said the paradigm shift includes climate change responses to establish a certain degree of resilience for the farmers.

Schlettwein said it would be done by amplifying fodder production efforts, establishing feedlots, doubling knowledge creation in nutrition and rangeland management through training and awareness in the NCA.

“Let us ensure that when these feedlots are up and running that they are ever full year after year,” he said


The agricultural minister explained that farming could be a significant contributor to the economic development of Namibia.

However, it is only possible if farmers also queue up in the value chain to become dairy producers for various dairy products, meat products, and suppliers of by-products like hides and skins.

He said his ministry wants to revive the tannery sector. However, the sustainability of the sector depends on the farmers to constantly supply hides and skins.

“Having mentioned various sources of income generation! Does this not mean that it is, in fact, a business that livestock farming can sustain and subsequently improve food insecurity at household levels?” Schlettwein stated.

He explained that if every household pulls resources together every day to follow planned activities to produce for the markets, “we will certainly go a long way”.

The former finance minister highlighted that his ministry is aware that resources are scarce in Namibia, and farming can be costly.

Farming cost is exacerbated by erratic rainfall as the country encounters climate change at an accelerated rate.

According to Schlettwein, the concept of collaborating in a larger organized group to support each other is viable, e.g. farmer’s associations and cooperatives.

Not only is such a platform beneficial for socio-economic activities, but it also serves as a teaching/learning process from each other.

He explained that there would be farmers who have experience and are knowledgeable in farming whom others who are less fortunate could tap into. Through that, everybody benefits, and although slowly, growth will eventually be realized.


Access markets is another strategy the ministry wants to pursue aggressively, the agriculture policymaker stated.

“We have now the support of the Government at its highest level to enter into agreements so that procurement of meat and meat products is a reality, especially for the abattoirs in the NCA,” Schlettwein revealed.

The minister added that the livestock farmers must now queue up for the value chain no matter the product they want to supply.

This will enable the region to increase throughput at the abattoirs; increase volumes at the meat processors, and revive the tannery sector.

Furthermore, it will increase access to the export markets through Commodity Base Trade (CBT).

He updated that the ministry had a delegation to Ghana and Congo Brazzaville that introduced Namibia as a potential source of meat exports to these countries.

Further discussions are needed to finalize trade agreements with these countries, and the farmers should seriously look at producing for the export markets shortly.

While the ministry will try its best through this project to improve veterinary service delivery.

“We know that Foot-and-Mouth (FMD) disease has economic distress on the country, and while it is a tough act to eradicate the disease, we at least work towards containing it every time it rears its ugly head,” said Schlettwein.

He said solutions are capacity building in terms of diagnostic services, surveillance, and traceability through epidemiological activities, and rehabilitating all animal handling facilities are all activities to be implemented.

Animal handling facilities are critical to being in good condition. They are used for vaccination campaigns and ear tagging, but most importantly, to quarantine livestock for a certain period before preparing them for the markets.

However, it is problematic to maintain them in good condition as they are prone to vandalism.

“Rural communities must realize that these facilities are there for them, and they should be the foot soldiers to protect them at all costs,” said Schlettwein.

He called all NCA farming stakeholders to participate in the project implementation.

The agriculture and land reform policymakers also cautioned those who complained that activities had been pre-determined and that the ministry did not follow the bottom-up approach.

With the ministry’s timeframe, it was a relatively crunch period to get the Programme Estimate completed, approved, and signed by the EU, the ministry, and the National Planning Commission.

Moreover, the type of projects was also primarily dictated under the financing agreement.

“It is up to us to create success stories horizontally and vertically,” stated Schlettwein.


Julia Heita

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