The governments of Namibia and Indonesia will this week put into action the ambitious joint agriculture plan that has been dormant since the signing of a memorandum of understanding between the two countries in March 2011.
Agriculture minister John Mutorwa welcomed a delegation of agricultural experts from Indonesia earlier this week for the first meeting of the joint working committee that comprises of three Namibians and three Indonesians.
Head of the Indonesian delegation Dr Ade Candradijaya pointed out that although some basic training activities have been undertaken as part of the agreement, the two countries’ joint working committee is yet to hold a meeting. The meeting is supposed to keep the plans alive, as agreed to by the two countries.
“We will establish a comprehensive action plan during this meeting that will deal with all aspects of agriculture,” said Candradijaya.
Areas of cooperation between the two countries include the design of a new quarantine structure and administrative system for Namibia, exchange of phytosanitary information on plant pests and diseases and exchange of information on plant health status.
Indonesian Ambassador to Namibia, Eddy Basuki, stressed the importance of the first meeting of the working committee and the implementation of a comprehensive work plan that covers a vast terrain of agricultural activities.
“Indonesia and Namibia face some of the same, tough agricultural challenges now and in the future, and this programme will enable the countries to share important information, do training and ultimately improve on food products and livestock production,” he noted.
According to the memorandum, the task team will identify, select and develop rice cultivars and varieties and research opportunities to improve the nutritional value of rice.
The action plan will also look at ways of enhancing rainwater and nutrients use-efficiency for improved crop production as well as study the nutrient dynamics and factors affecting fertiliser use under variable soil conditions.
Acting Permanent Secretary Sophia Kasheeta announced that four Namibians have already been trained for proficiency testing of fertilisers and agriculture remedies.
The working committee is also tasked with increased product development through value addition, capacity building on plant and animal health and the protection of animal and plant genetic material.
The committee must ultimately also facilitate bilateral trade on agricultural products and establish cooperation between the two countries on agro-industrial technology development. This will include to jointly identify and develop post-harvest, food, processing, preservation and packaging technologies, for example fresh fruit.
The committee will also facilitate technical inspections for plant and animal products trading with reference to the International Organisation for Animal Health. Training of food technologists will be implemented and training of officials and technicians of the bio-safety unit will also commence.