Women dominate agricultural households – census

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Windhoek

The estimated population of agricultural households of 907 715 is made up of 490 149 (54.0%) female and 417 566 (46.0%) male-headed households.

Minister of Agriculture, Water and Forestry (MAWF) John Mutorwa officially launched the long-awaited 2013/2014 Namibia Census of Agriculture (NCA)’s Communal Sector Report in Windhoek last week.

Results from the report show that the production of crops was mainly for own consumption. Millet/mahangu recorded the highest volume consumed (79 424 tonnes), followed by maize (11 132 tonnes) and sorghum with 4 512 tonnes.

Millet recorded the highest post-harvest losses of 24 437 tonnes, of which 22 824 tonnes were lost in the field. The census report further reveals that out of 159 484 agricultural households, 39 percent were engaged in livestock farming. A total of 872 228 cattle were reported to be owned. The census further recorded 1 618 204 goats and 163 905 sheep.

The census reveals that about 8 040 agricultural households received extension services in the selection of crops, followed by 7 899 that received services in farm management and 7 621 that received extension services in livestock husbandry. Most of the extension services were provided by the MAWF.

The census result also shows that 31 720 agricultural households received information through the radio. A large number of agricultural households (58.6%) are located within a kilometre from basic facilities and 11.3 percent of the households were more than ten kilometres from such facilities.

With regard to farm management, the results showed that households that reported to have used fertilisers on their crops mainly applied organic fertilisers. The majority of those using organic fertilisers, applied them on millet/mahangu.

Local varieties of seeds were used by 143 411 holders, which makes them the most used type of seeds by agricultural households. The reasons for not using improved and/or hybrid seeds were attributed to non-availability, and non-affordability as well as a lack of knowledge about these types of seeds.

The results further reveal that the major activities that communal agricultural households were involved in a are crop production and livestock husbandry. The agricultural census is a large-scale statistical operation for the collection of data and information about the state and structure of agriculture in the country, which is a vital sector for the Namibian economy. When resources permit, the standard census would be carried out similar to the Population and Housing Census, i.e. every ten years.

Mutorwa stressed that information from this census gives policymakers and planners an understanding of the status quo, as well as progress and future prospects of agricultural industries, products, and farming practices. It will also help farmers, policymakers and others involved in the industry to determine strategies to ensure sustainable farming.

“The agricultural and forestry sectors are and will most certainly remain major sources of livelihoods for the very vast majority of our country’s population, who are still largely dependent on subsistence agriculture. The sector’s contribution to the country’s export earnings, in the form of live animals, meat and meat products, as well as grapes has been enormous,” Mutorwa noted.

He said given the status of agriculture and its importance to the national economy, successive development plans have emphasised a need to maximise returns and give added attention to rural areas.

The NDP 4 recognises the importance of the agricultural sector, by rating it as one of the key priority areas for development, hence the production of agricultural statistics – a necessary vital planning tool.
“The provision of relevant, timely and accurate agricultural statistics is needed to monitor and track the impact of government policy related to rural development in general, agricultural products trade, strategic stockpiles, food security and farmer outreach programmes,” Mutorwa observed.

He urged staff of the MAWF to increase their collective and individual efforts to address the shortfalls revealed by the census results, and in the same vein urged the National Statistics Agency (NSA) to extensively disseminate the results, as contained in the report, to ensure evidence-based planning in the agricultural sector, as well as the monitoring of sectoral policies and programmes.

The importance of a census of agriculture cannot be overemphasised, especially in the context of the contribution of the agricultural sector to the national economy.

“I believe that the information gathered from the 2013/14 agriculture census exercise would generally aid decision-makers in the formulation of sound economic and social policies to identify target groups for government assistance, construct models to stimulate the impact on individual groups of the various policy options and to analyse the impact of decisions that have already been implemented and of the economic situation on living conditions of agricultural households in Namibia.”

The minister concluded by announcing that the commercial sector agriculture census is now in full swing. The stage of enumeration has been completed and data processing has commenced. This census covers commercial farming units in the entire country, including resettlement farms.

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