President Hage Geingob yesterday made an impassioned appeal to the Namibia National Farmers Union (NNFU) to join government in the fight against poverty.
Geingob made the call while addressing a delegation of NNFU members at State House yesterday. The meeting that lasted almost two hours was initiated by the president.
He told the NNFU delegation that despite Namibia being a rich country, social and economic disparities, hunger and poverty remain a challenge.
“This country is rich in resources – we have minerals, game, other animals such as fish, yet hunger is the main problem,” he said, adding: “That is the reason I invited you.”
“There are about 4 000 farmers; we want to use people who have farms to fight poverty,” he said.
Geingob appealed to farmers to donate two cows each towards setting up the envisaged national food banks.
He said that every Christmas he contributes five cows to pensioners in Tsumeb, Otavi, Grootfontein, Otjiwarongo and Outjo but he is only asking each commercial farmer to donate two beasts annually for the planned food banks.
Geingob said food banks would be set up across the country and street committees that will mainly comprise of unemployed youths will take charge of the food banks.
According to him, the youths will be allocated streets to provide security and feed the needy in the respective streets.
He said food will be collected from farmers and the fishing industry, while supermarkets will be asked not to chuck food away.
He said a high-level administrative team will oversee the exercise.
He said rural areas will also benefit from the food banks.
“Maybe the ones in rural areas will include massive ploughing because people in those areas have massive land,” he said, adding that people will be taught how to feed themselves instead of relying on others.
Responding to the president’s appeal, the NNFU executive director Mwilima Mushokabanji said that as a union they strongly feel they will be able to participate in the scheme in terms of alleviating widespread poverty.
“We are also concerned about the wealth gap in the country and I think as farmers we have the power to cut that wealth gap,” responded Geingob.
He also expressed his dissatisfaction with the reed houses that farmworkers in the grape industry live in.
On his part the NNFU president Tobias Emvula promised Geingob that the delegation would convey his message to the union’s members.
In his inauguration speech last year Geingob declared a war against poverty and inequality, saying the country needs to find ways of combating the two social problems that have recurred since independence.
Yesterday, Geingob was accompanied by the Vice-President Dr Nickey Iyambo, the Prime Minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila and Deputy Prime Minister Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah.
Also present were the Minister of Presidential Affairs Frans Kapofi, Minister of Agriculture, Water and Forestry, John Mutorwa, Land Reform Minister Utoni Nujoma, Minister of Poverty Eradication and Social Welfare Bishop Zephania Kameeta and Inge Zaamwani-Kamwi, the president’s constitutional advisor.