Trade and Industry minister Calle Schlettwein’s recent trip to northern Namibia of various businesses has been described as a good step towards the reinforcement of co-operation between leaders and the business community.
The two-day trip saw the minister meet with the business community of Oshakati, followed by a tour of the newly-opened Ondangwa Fresh Fruits and Vegetable Hub, the Oshikoto Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Hub, as well as the northern tannery at Ondangwa.
Owner of the Oshikoto Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Farm, Michael Iyambo, stressed the importance of leadership involvement and fostering relationship with regional entrepreneurs.
“It is important for leaders to closely work with us. As agro-businesses, we fall under the Trade and Industry Ministry, therefore, we are grateful the minister sought to understand the potential within our businesses and the difficulties we deal with,” he said.
Jacob Hamutenya, owner of the Ondangwa Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Hub echoed Iyambo’s sentiments, noting, the minister’s visit showed that local leaders are interested in economic growth participation through their businesses.
Hamutenya added; “There is a need for constant consultations with the ministry, as we have realised potential and opportunities that lie in collaborating with them. We presented our need and expectation to the minister who did the same. From here, we have positive expectation from our relationship with the ministry.”
Iyambo whose business employs 60 people from and around Tsitsanbis revealed he had in fact written a letter requesting the minister’s presence in his farm in the past.
He and the minister recently discussed the various difficulties he would like the ministry to step in to address, such as the high costs of fertilisers imported from South Africa.
“The fertiliser I use takes about 30% of my budget. I would appreciate it if Government stepped in to solve this for us, farmers. Since there are different fertilisers in Namibia, such as phosphate, which is also good for farming, Government can create a national project to invest in a locally produced fertiliser and sell it to us. This would help curb the expenses paid on import duties,” Iyambo stressed.
The high cost of imported resources impact the prices of products found on the local retail outlets, making it expensive for the ordinary person to buy the products, he lamented.
Iyambo’s farm produce supplies some of the valued retail outlets, such as Pick n’ Pay, Fruit and Veg, Farmers Market, OK Foods, Tulipamwe Caterers and Namib Mills. The entity’s net worth is evaluated at about N$8m with an annual turnover of N$1.2m.
Schlettwein stressed to the northern business community that to address all challenges associated with business development, it is vital to strengthen the lines of co-operation and communication between Government and the private sector.
“Together, we are stronger than each one of us on our own. We therefore must cultivate a culture of sharing information and consulting by all means, with the aim to complement each other’s actions,” the minister said.
He also stated Government will continue implementing practical policies aimed at encouraging investment, industrialisation and economic growth. It will further keep putting measures in place to support the local small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to become more profitable and effectively participate in the country’s mainstream economy.