‘Farming is Country’s Backbone’

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By Surihe Gaomas WINDHOEK With the onset of the rainy season, local farmers are urged to use the land efficiently and in a more productive way in order to ensure food security for the country. President of the Namibian Agricultural Union Raimar Von Hase has urged farm owners and their workers to make full use of the rainy season this year for productive yields. Speaking to New Era recently, Von Hase stressed the crucial role played by the agricultural sector on the country’s socio-economic development. “Agriculture is the most important backbone for our economy, in terms of improving livelihoods. Farmers should not just go and sit on the land, because it is a business and not meant for fun, but rather to produce food for the nation,” said Von Hase. He added that the value of agriculture was tremendous, therefore an important lifeline for the existence of the nation. Statistics show that 70 percent of the country’s population greatly depends on this form of production and as a result, all interested parties should act this season. “We must always be aware of this, every policy maker, farm owner, labourer, Government and the country as a whole.” Von Hase said Namibians should always look at what they have and make full use of it for the benefit of themselves and those around them. Currently, large tracts of land are lying idle and much of these farmlands are being repossessed by Government since some farmers are unable to sustain productivity. However, Von Hase said that there is still a substantial number of farmers who have in the past heeded his call and provided excellent produce even under difficult circumstances. These circumstances are dry weather conditions as well as the fact that local farmers do not receive any subsidies from Government. With hardly any serious labour disputes, the prevailing conducive agricultural situation in the country creates an ideal environment for farmers to compete more effectively. Echoing this same view, freelance training facilitator Gunther Goeber said both communal and commercial farmers have to transform their agricultural activities from traditional ventures to profitable businesses that produce good harvests. “Farmers need to focus on grazing and livestock into a marketable product. Traditionally, cattle are seen as savings and family wealth, but at the same time they can also be converted into an efficient business venture for profitable gains, explained Goeber. Farming, be it livestock, small stock or aqua farming, has huge potential for the country, provided farmers make use of the available resources and technologies at their disposal. “We need to look at doubling our export earnings, while at the same time doubling our income,” said Goeber.