The Namibian Agricultural Union (NAU) wants to remain a credible, acknowledged and respected partner of the government by building on the existing relationships and by making positive contributions to assist the government to achieve its goals in the agricultural sector.
Speaking exclusively to Farmers Forum, newly elected president of the Namibia Agricultural Union (NAU), Ryno van der Merwe, said the NAU appreciates the political peace and stability in Namibia, and especially respects the initiative of President Hage Geingob to eradicate poverty, as well as all efforts by government to ensure food safety.
“The NAU wants to make contributions to these initiatives by engaging all roleplayers in the agricultural sector and thereby create a bigger forum to ensure the very important agricultural sector is developed to its full potential,” he notes.
Van der Merwe says it is of utmost importance that socio-economic activities and projects be identified, and in collaboration with other role players, to support crop and livestock producers to ensure they become economically empowered.
“Of great importance also is that we update the NAU Land Databases – which indicate how many hectares of land have already been transferred, in order for us to know how much of government’s vision of 15 million hectares being transferred by 2020 has been achieved,” he observes.
He also stresses the importance of getting passive members of the NAU to participate in farmers’ unions activities and projects. It is also very important to identify future leaders on all levels of the structures of the NAU to ensure strong leadership for the future. He says it is imperative that alternative sources of income have to be investigated to increase the income of Namibian producers in both the livestock and crop production sectors of the industry.
Outgoing president of the NAU, Derek Wright, stresses that financial pressure on the agricultural sector as experienced this year, due to the worst drought in 40 years, could have a devastating effect on government’s policy of supporting food for national security for the entire country.
He says Namibian livestock producers have an internationally respected reputation for excellence in terms of their animal health status, one that Namibia needs to protect and one that government should recognise and communicate with organised agriculture when determining policy in order to obtain input on the needs of producers.
“At the same time government needs to examine the reasons for the fact that the contribution of agriculture to the Gross Domestic Product of Namibia has declined from 7.4 percent in 1980 to only 3.2 percent now. In conclusion, he hailed government for the initiation and compilation of the Namibia Rangeland Forum to develop an overall strategy for improving rangeland management in Namibia.