Land Reform Minister Utoni Nujoma has called on farmers in the //Karas Region to increase land productivity to ensure food security.
In a speech read on his behalf by //Karas Regional Governor Lucia Basson during the Farmers’ Day at Karasburg on Friday, Nujoma called on farmers and in particular recently resettled commercial farmers to improve land productivity.
He said improved land productivity would ensure food sufficiency and also contribute to the development of Namibia. “With increased productivity each household will be able to be food sufficient and ultimately all the farmers will be able to contribute to the gross domestic product of Namibia,” he said.
He added that the long-term vision is to improve people’s livelihoods and foster support towards the eradication of poverty in Namibian communities, as stipulated in the Harambee Prosperity Plan.
Nujoma indicated that the Farmers Day is very important and urged the farmers to network, share farming experiences and learn new ways of land utilisation and veld management, adding that the day brings an opportunity for the farmers to consider how best to deal with challenges they face and how best to overcome them as a community.
He said, despite the challenges, the government has managed to acquire 88 farms in the region, with 159 farming units and thus 159 families have been resettled. Nujoma was, however, disappointed by some resettled farmers, who do not honour their lease agreements and fail to pay the agreed upon rental fees.
“It’s disappointing to note that some of our resettled farmers are reluctant to pay the rental fees or repair their infrastructure,” he noted. He stressed that these payments are meant to assist government in the rehabilitation and repair of water and fencing infrastructure.
He then revealed that there are 19 unoccupied farms currently, compared to 40 during the 2012/13 financial year, adding that the number needs to be reduced to zero.
Basson, in her speech, noted with concern the effects of the drought on farmers in the region, stating that as chairperson of
//Karas Regional Resettlement Committee, her office has received numerous requests for emergency grazing, as farmers urgently seek to be relocated to unoccupied farms.
She also pointed out that the lack of basic infrastructure, such as water and fencing, still remains a major challenge in the region.