By Mbatjiua Ngavirue WINDHOEK The book ‘Farming Systems in Namibia’ by John Mendelsohn was launched in Windhoek on Monday evening. The book, described as the first of its kind, is a comprehensive account of all the various farming systems found in Namibia. It covers everything from small-scale farming activities in all the various regions to large commercial farming operations, and everything in-between. The Namibia National Farmers Union (NNFU) identified the need for such a book, leading them to commission John Mendelsohn of Research & Information Services of Namibia to write it. The Service for Co-operation and Cultural Affairs of the French Embassy in Namibia funded the entire project. The Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Agriculture, Kahijoro Kahuure, officially launched the book with a statement read on behalf of his Minister, Dr Nicky Iyambo. “The Ministry has been mulling the idea for a number of years of undertaking research in order to better understand the Namibian agricultural environment, and we are therefore delighted that the NNFU has been able to lead this process,” Iyambo said. Speaking at the launch NNFU president, Manfred Rukoro, said the decision to commission the book was part of the Agricultural Union’s effort to develop a new vision for itself. He said the NNFU has a diverse membership, and therefore found it necessary to document the disparities in farming systems used by its members in order to be able to provide tailor-made service delivery. Only through a better understanding of the different farming systems would the NNFU be able to design support programmes that would categorize farmers, and prioritize farmers’ needs. The book was written after drawing on inputs from a wide range of stakeholders in the agricultural sector. “The NNFU is convinced this publication will inform all farmers and stakeholders in the agricultural sector on the main farming systems in Namibia, and thereby enlighten any necessary intervention,” Rukoro said. Head of the French Mission for Cooperation, Marcel Jouve, said the idea for the book came about when French national, Christophe Rigourd, was still working with the NNFU secretariat. They discovered it was very difficult to obtain a precise, complete and up-to-date picture of the agricultural and livestock sector in Namibia particularly at the unit of production, or farm level. Jouve announced that the French Mission was sponsoring the printing of 1ÃƒÆ’Ã†’Ãƒâ€ ‘ÃƒÆ’ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬Ãƒ…ÃƒÆ’Ã†”Ã…Â¡ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â 000 extra copies for distribution to teachers at schools where agriculture and economics are taught. During discussions with John Mendelsohn, Jouve discovered that some very important data was not readily available. He urged the Namibian government to examine this problem when working on statistical issues regarding the agricultural and livestock sector. As an example, he mentioned that there was no data on the age profile of farmers in the country or on the percentage of farms where there was an identified successor. “Yet this kind of information would be of particular relevance to deal with such important issues as land reform since it could help anticipate the evolution of farm structures and farm market in the medium- to long-terms. “I therefore see the book that the NNFU is launching today as a first milestone on the way to an even more exhaustive, detailed and accurate description of farming systems in the future in Namibia,” Jouve remarked.
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