By Mbatjiua Ngavirue WINDHOEK The Namibia National Farmers Union (NNFU) began a three-day information seminar for members, the public and other stakeholders, in Windhoek on Monday. Delivering the opening address, NNFU President Manfred Rukoro said the objective of the seminar was to share the NNFU’s experience in supporting farmers’ initiatives with participants. The gathering brings together farmers, policy makers, development workers, donors and other support structures to exchange ideas. In addition, the NNFU also hopes lessons can be drawn from its practical experiences while stressing good practices for future interventions. The NNFU was established in 1992 to act as an advocacy body committed to improving the livelihoods of small-scale communal farmers, and it operates as a federation of 12 regional farmers’ unions. The agricultural body runs three different programmes in support of livestock marketing by communal farmers. These include a project to train community-based livestock marketing advisers, renovation and upgrading of livestock marketing facilities in communal areas and support to agricultural shows aimed at improving herd quality. The membership of the NNFU has currently expanded beyond communal farmers to include emerging commercial farmers. Rukoro said a total re-alignment of the NNFU’s programmes, projects and activities was required because the socio-economic and political environment in the country had changed. This re-alignment would however be underpinned by approaches that are genuinely demand driven and participative and puts farmers at the centre of the developmental process. The organisation also emphasises approaches rooted in the concept of “organised agriculture” and in particular either formal or informal farmers’ organisations. The idea being that farmers’ organisations should act as conduits of development to rural communities and empower local institutions. Rukoro further said the organisation aimed at strategies that were process and result orientated to ensure capacity building of beneficiaries. The NNFU congress in 2004 resolved and mandated the executive committee to formulate a new vision for the organisation. As part of this “re-visioning exercise” the executive committee undertook vigorous and extensive consultations with members and stakeholders of the NNFU at local, regional and national level. The three-day information event will cover topics such as livestock production and marketing initiatives, crop/grain production and marketing and related issues such as land, water, HIV/Aids and farm workers.
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