WINDHOEK – Namibia’s economic growth needs to be accelerated to deliver equitable benefits to society as a whole and to reduce income inequalities, says the Under Secretary responsible for the Namibia Investment Centre in the Ministry of Trade and Industry, Bernadette Artivor.
Artivor was speaking at the 50th Annual Congress of the Livestock Producers Organisation (LPO). “You of the LPO, are the first link in the meat value chain producing essential inputs necessary for the processing industry to produce consumer ready products,” she said. She told delegates that the strategic importance of agriculture is evident through its selection as one of the priority areas under NDP4 and in the National Industrial Policy. “Agricultural production is foreseen to be the basis for future industrialisation in Namibia.
Hence agri-business and agro-industries should determine the pathway for our agriculture-led economic transformation,” she noted. The government’s ‘Growth at Home’ strategy is based on local value-addition to especially agricultural raw materials. Value-addition in agriculture has two components, namely value-addition through production and value-addition to primary agricultural products. “Namibia needs the foreign exchange obtained from the local meat value-chain exports. However, given that about 80 percent of local production is either exported as primary beef cuts, lamb carcasses and live exports on the hoof, it is unfortunate that a lot of secondary and tertiary value-addition in the meat sector takes place outside Namibia,” she said.
She further said this is tantamount to exporting potential local employment opportunities to other countries, while the dividends of value-addition are not repatriated to Namibia, and especially back to the livestock producers. “This does not sit well with our ‘Growth at Home’ strategy and this will have to change. As evidence of its committment, the ministry has recently instituted support measures for the broiler and dairy industries as part of this strategy,” said Artivor. “According to the Annual National Accounts of the Namibian Statistics Agency, livestock farming contributed 3.5 percent of the total 5.1 percent of the agricultural contribution to the Gross Domestic Product. This is indeed remarkable. However, the question should be asked why agriculture does in general and livestock farming in particular not contribute more to the GDP,” she proferred.
By Deon Schlechter