By Desie Heita
Farmers under the Namibia National Farmers Union put the Government on the spot at their recent executive committee meeting with a list of grievances and demands that they say require Government’s urgent attention.
These include providing financial and mentoring support to resettled farmers, finding solutions to credit facilities for subsistence farmers and value addition in livestock marketing.
The Namibia National Farmers Union (NNFU) also demanded that Government stops ignoring and isolating the union on the Green Scheme policy as the union has helped in the drafting and model design.
The NNFU’s executive committee meeting took place on May 16 and 17.
Pinthile Davids, president of the NNFU, said Government must pay serious attention to post-resettlement support programmes, and allocate more money to those programmes, instead of focusing only on land acquisition for resettlement purposes.
He said Government could outsource some of the support functions, which Government itself may not be able to carry out , to organizations such as the NNFU.
On access to credit facilities for subsistence farmers, especially those resettled in commercial areas, the NNFU said the issue needs debate for financial institutions to come up with pro-poor products for the disadvantaged section of society.
NNFU said its members found that “there are sufficient loan funds and facilities in various banking institutions and development partners, but these funds are simply not accessible to communal small-holder farmers. The loans are not tailor-made to benefit communities with non conventional collateral.”
Pinthile called the situation “economic discrimination”.
“The NNFU calls on these organizations to proactively design and develop products that are pro-poor in order to make loans accessible for the disadvantaged section of our society,” said Pinthile.
He said the NNFU is ready to participate in any processes that explore possibilities for products such as “land reform without credit facility is doomed”.
Pinthile said although there are various discussions on the matter by Government, and other developmental partners, the entire process is taking too long, and no real products are forthcoming.
The NNFU also expressed worry over the “slow and nonsystematic implementation of the Green Scheme,” a scheme that the union helped in the drafting and model design. Pinthile said the union “is now deliberately being ignored and isolated in the implementation process”.
“This scheme is meant for our members and we have the right to be consulted and be part of the process. We are calling on the new Minister of Agriculture, Water and Forestry, John Mutorwa, to intervene and change the current status quo for good and the advancement of agriculture which is the backbone of our economy,” said Pinthile.
Other issues expressed by the NNFU are value addition which the union said is taking place at the expense of the producers who pay excessive prices to guarantee supply to local abattoirs or otherwise face the penalty fine for exporting live animals.
The Executive Committee elected Oloff Munjanu as the executive director and elected Penda Hawala to represent the northern communal farmers on the executive committee.