NAU President Praises Land Reform … In Part

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By Kuvee Kangueehi Leonardville The President of the Namibia Agricultural Union (NAU) Raimar von Hase has said the government puts little effort in the selection of beneficiaries of the resettlement programme and that this negatively affects agricultural production. Speaking at a Farmers Day of the Emerging Farmer of the Year last weekend, Von Hase said government needs to carefully select beneficiaries and assist them with capital and the required training in order to improve the production and livelihood of resettled individuals. He noted that there is a misconception that if people are given land free of charge, poverty and unemployment will go away. He said farming is an interesting venture full of opportunities and challenges and if one is not committed and prepared to work, it is not advisable to go into the sector. The fact that Namibia is the driest country in Southern Africa and experiences periodic droughts, he noted, makes farming even more challenging. Von Hase said that commercial white farmers are committed to land reform and have made more farms available for government to buy. He revealed that last year, government bought 54 farms which is three times more than the farms government bought the previous year. The NAU president said Namibia has made progress in terms of land reform, and out of the total 36 million hectares of commercial land, close to 7 million hectares have been made available for land reform. According to him, it is an achievement given that according to the World Bank successful land reform can only be completed in a period of 30 to 40 years. He urged white commercial farmers who are going on retirement to make their farms available for government to buy. Reminding commercial white farmers that they have a responsibility to assist with land reform, he also thanked the Namibian government for being a responsible government over the last 17 years. At the same occasion the president of the Namibia National Farmers Union (NNFU) Manfred Rukoro said the emerging farmer of the year competition is an initiative by both unions, namely the NAU and NNFU, to ensure that land reform is successful. He said that it does not make sense to take land away from a productive farmer and give it to an unproductive farmer. Rukoro said the two unions have acquired N$10 million from the European Union to provide training to emerging farmers. He noted that the relationship between the two unions has improved and this has made the programme of assisting emerging farmers a success, adding that post resettlement support is crucial to make land reform a success. The finance manager at Agribank Justice Tjituka informed the gathering that Agribank has been working hard to re-organize itself in order to improve its services. He said the bank has capital to finance the buying of new farms as well as finance agricultural needs at farms. He noted that the bank also has a new system and urged farmers to implement sustainable agricultural production. He added that the cash flow at the bank has also improved. The bank will soon introduce a new funding strategy. The Farmers Day of the Emerging Farmer of the Year was held at Farm Tennesse, owned by Clara Bohitile, who was the winner. The event was also attended by deputy Minister of Justice Utoni Nujoma, deputy Minister of Education Becky Ndjoze-Ojo, former NAU president Jannie de Wet and prominent farmers such Ryno van der Merwe and Uli Pack. Agribank and Mutual & Federal sponsored the day.