The Namibia National Farmers Union (NNFU) – through its president – has appealed to financial institutions to design financial products that are accessible to communal farmers, who do not have the collateral usually demanded by the banks.
NNFU president Tobias Emvula recently made the appeal when he addressed an NNFU meeting here. The NNFU national council meeting took place under the theme, ‘Strengthening and Sustaining Farmers’ Support: Key to Household Food Security and Poverty Reduction’.
“Support to farmers and farmers in the agricultural sector is absolutely crucial as farming provides employment, plays a role in ensuring food security, poverty reduction and generates foreign currency through exports particularly livestock and livestock products,” Emvula said. He also took the opportunity to applaud donors for the funding support that the union receives from Meatboard, GIZ, Meatco, Agribusdev and the EU, among other donors. Emvula also applauded government for the support provided to the agricultural sector.
“As a farming community we take note of the following institutions that have been set up with a specific mandate to provide support to the sector, namely AMTA [Agro Marketing Trading Agency], NAB [Namibian Agronomic Board], Agribusdev, Agribank and the government green schemes,” he explained. The main challenges faced by the agricultural community, according to the NNFU, is the declining rural economy, as well as the slow pace of growth in the sector. The ongoing drought is also a major challenge, as well as foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) outbreaks.
Other problems include veld fires, as well as human-wildlife conflicts, limited marketing opportunities for farmers, and the high input costs endured by farmers, as well as the lack of collateral, and the failure to implement government policy in a coherent manner.
“As president of the union, I wish to acknowledge the challenges facing the union and these are as follows: limitations with regard to finances and human capacity and expertise; weak capacity to influence government policy and the resultant ineffective contribution to governance of the country; weak capacity to coordinate the huge membership base we have; and inactive members, who do not pay membership fees,” Emvula said.
He further urged farmers to join the union, as it advocates for organised agriculture, which will benefit not only government, but the farmers as well. “Joining the union strengthens the voice of farmers and this is very important for the governance of the country,” he said.
The NNFU national council meeting was attended by the NNFU regional leadership from across all 14 regions. The NNFU represents the interests of communal, subsistence and small-scale farmers countrywide through advocacy and lobbying for development of policies favourable to farmers and by holding government accountable for the implementation of government policy.