Can Namibia Meet its Future Rural and Agricultural Challenges?

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By Diederik Jankowitz

With the NDP 3 (Third National Development Plan) focussing on rural development for the next few years, it is quite evident that Government intends to address the potential the rural areas and its communities could offer. Such strategies and action plans are long overdue, especially regarding the northern communal areas, currently having the:

– largest agricultural growth potential in Namibia; and
– biggest need for such development in the entire Namibia.

Over the past four years an extensive study revealed that this situation already existed long before Namibia’s independence, but could be changed within a very short period of time and with relative little investment or loans.

The requirements of the rural people, local organisations, local authorities, supportive attitude of local financial institutions, international lenders, potential investors, Namibia’s friendly investment environment, etc., confirmed the above. Over and above the above, the international demand for organic foods and bio-energy fuelled the demand and expectations even more.

This, together with Namibia’s need for import substitution, latest interest in oil seed farming/production, as well as the contents of a recent article by Dr Koos Coetzee in the Farmers Weekly under the heading “Large-scale farming gives food security”, urged me to take up my pen and share the experiences we gathered during the compilation of a business plan and recruitment of funding for a project, initiated by Likwama Farmers Cooperative Union in the Caprivi Region, with fellow country-men and women.

Coetzee mentioned that “Food Security” became a buzzword in South Africa in the early nineties and warned that “A country has food security when the population has access to sufficient food at affordable prices”, but continues by saying that “this differs from the old concept of food self-sufficiency, where the goal was to produce enough food within a country”. He further explains “strict adherence to the principle of food security means that government does not have to worry too much about local agriculture as long as it can import food at affordable prices”. The importance of “Import substitution” addresses both the above definitions and should not just attract the URGENT attention of the Ministry of Agriculture, Trade and Industry and the private sector, but also that of the Ministry of Lands and Resettlement and the entire country, government and all the communities of Namibia.

Over the years Namibia, the smaller neighbour of our big brother (South Africa), could ride softly on the waves of South African food security as we (with our small population) could always rely and maybe still rely on the exporting of tons of beef, mutton and goats to South Africa and even the European Union. But in the contrary and just to name a few, Namibia always had and still have to annually import:

– Between 90 and 120??????’??

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