By Surihe Gaomas WINDHOEK In their quest to enable communal farmers to catch up with their commercial counterparts, nine consortiums recently contributed N$430 000 for use by communal farmers to host successful agricultural shows. The donors are Sanlam, Meatco, First National Bank, Namibia Breweries, Agribank, Meat Board, Agra, Feed Master and Telecom Namibia. This is the 3rd time that the Communal Farmers Consortium reaches out to the communal farmers with financial support for various shows. The cheque was handed over to the umbrella body of the communal farmers Namibia National Farmers Union (NNFU). Through NNFU, approximately 40 farmers associations will benefit whereby the money will be used to pay for the prizes of shows and other related necessities. To date, the consortium of companies has availed resources to the NNFU totalling over a million dollars for communal show activities in the country. Launching the Communal Farmers Show Sponsorship on behalf of the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry, Deputy Director Sophia Kasheeta said government was committed to the creation of a conducive environment for agricultural development especially in communal areas. This is based on the Agriculture Policy through which role players including the private sector can contribute meaningfully to developing the agricultural sector on which 70 percent of the country’s population depends for a living. She commended the collective action taken by the Communal Framers Consortium of Companies together with the NNFU to boost the agricultural policy for the improvement and marketing drive for communal farmers in the country. “We further believe that the development of this sector is crucial in sustaining livelihoods through wealth creation and thereby reducing our skewed income as reflected by the gini coefficient which is still amongst the highest in the world at 0,7,” explained Kasheeta. Since independence, immense support has been given to producers in the communal sector and they are currently the biggest producers of high quality weaners in the country. “The quality of communal produce especially livestock has improved significantly and this has a net effect on the producer income,” she added. Speaking at the same occasion, Chief Executive Officer of Agribank Leonard Iipumbu said there was a need to broaden the current base of nine consortium of companies. He said this is in light of the poor showing of black communal farmers at various agricultural shows over the last year. “The next shows must show that communal farmers can also compete in the market. We have to increase the consortium with many other companies. We must stretch out our arm to do better for our economy to maximise profits and productivity,” said Iipumbu. This sector is also crucial in developing the rural economy and improving their livelihood. The sector can contribute significantly to the national Gross Development Product. “This initiative complements government efforts at integrated rural development to close the gap between the commercial and communal sectors to form a formidable force responsible for maximising agricultural production for increased household food security and food self-sufficiency as a nation,” he said. Agricultural shows have become important platforms to exchange information on effective productivity, skills transfer and knowledge for sustainable, affordable and productive farming methods. “Farming is a business and a constant exchange of information and sharing becomes vital for success in today’s fast changing environment,” said Iipumbu. Receiving the cheque on behalf of NNFU, the Vice-Treasurer of the union Benestus Kandundu said funds will be used wisely and will go a long way to not only “improve the agricultural contribution to the economy” but also “better quality products to be delivered to the market hence better returns”. “Be rest assured that the funds will be put to good use,” concluded Kandundu.
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