Agriculture Faces Obstacles


By Wezi Tjaronda WINDHOEK Although Namibia has a favourable policy environment for agricultural investment, many obstacles prevent small agricultural producers from producing a surplus apart from feeding themselves. Lack of credit and markets, together with insecure land tenure, remain some of the hurdles that the small and emerging producers of agricultural products face, which President Hifikepunye Pohamba says is beyond their control. In a speech that was read on his behalf countrywide during the commemoration of World Food Day yesterday, the President said Namibia enjoyed peace and stability and has modern road infrastructure and water management, but the country’s small-scale producers face problems with tariffs, non-tariff barriers, low prices for their products, the HIV/AIDS pandemic and poorly developed business relations with agribusiness at the commercial end of the agricultural supply chain. In addition to these, Namibian small-scale farmers also face other natural challenges such as drought, floods, pests and diseases. He said the country should work hard to improve the capacity of small-scale rural farmers to produce a surplus and feed themselves. While there was a need to encourage farmers to produce surplus crops, the President said authorities should also be mindful of the fact that producing bumper harvests that end up rotting in storage facilities would discourage them from producing more. Through many government activities and programmes such as aquaculture, community-based natural resource management, green schemes and national horticulture initiatives, Pohamba said, Namibia has managed to put itself on the list of countries that are committed to eradicating hunger and poverty. While green schemes would increase local production of maize, mahangu, cassava, fruit and vegetables, the National Horticulture Initiative, spearheaded by the Namibia Agronomic Board, would reduce the country’s dependence on South African products because for the country to prosper, it should be able to feed itself, otherwise it would be held hostage by others. Pohamba said aquaculture, which the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources is promoting, has the potential to reduce poverty. “This will serve as an additional source of income for rural households. Indeed, the inland fisheries sector can play an important role in improving the quality of lives of our people,” he added. This was the 26th World Food Day and 14th International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, which was commemorated under the themes: “Working Together Out of Poverty” and “Investing in Agriculture for Food Security”. Both themes, according to Pohamba, highlight the importance of restoring, energizing and building up agriculture production through the input of resources through public and private investments. Hunger and poverty have become urban and rural phenomena in developing countries as they are closely linked to poor agricultural production and adverse weather conditions. In the Khomas Region, the main event was held at Esselmanhaar in Dordabis in the Windhoek Rural Constituency, where Governor Sophia Shaningwa delivered the President’s speech. As part of the commemoration, the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry distributed food parcels, T-shirts and caps to kids in some of the informal settlements in Windhoek. A parade comprising of a truck with local musicians, who entertained people, and other vehicles attracted hundreds of people, mainly children, as it passed by. Although the ministry planned to visit four informal settlements, namely Ombili, Havana, Okahandja Park and Goreangab, the officials could only cover Okahandja Park and Ombili. At Okahandja Park, the officials distributed food parcels each containing a fruit, hot dog and drink to more than 250 children at the Hand in Hand for Children Okahandja Park Soup Kitchen. The centre caters for 300 orphans and vulnerable children who are fed on porridge and soup twice a day from Monday to Saturday every week.