To alleviate poverty and address inequality a conducive environment to ensure investors have sufficient trust that the Namibian economy has the potential for growth, is a prerequisite. In fact, local and foreign investor confidence should never be taken for granted, says Namibian Agricultural Union (NAU) president Ryno van der Merwe.
Van der Merwe spelled out these conditions last Wednesday evening when he addressed the 70th NAU congress in Windhoek, saying the world has become a global village, where competencies and capital can move overnight to where the best long-term possibilities are and quality of life can be achieved with limited risk and uncertainty.
“Namibia should embrace this reality to attract the necessary investments to ensure growth in the agricultural sector,” he noted and warned that to secure investor confidence certain criteria need to be guaranteed. “First, and foremost, we have peace and stability in our country… Secondly, we to respect the Constitution and the rule of law and act against corruption,” he stated.
Van der Merwe named factors of critical importance for the economy to grow include removing all obstacles in the way of employment creation, to develop an effective government service and to develop the skills base, saying: “Investments and sustainable economic growth are the keys to the development of a country and to ensure that future employment and wealth for all can be created.”
Pointing out the current harsh realities of the agriculture sector, Van der Merwe stressed that the profitability of farming is under immense pressure.
“During the past ten years income from livestock has increased by 71 percent, whilst production costs increased by 154 percent. Over the same period, income from small stock increased by123 percent, but also with an increase of 154 percent in production costs. What is needed for the livestock sectoral execution plan are increases in production, growth, marketing and off-take rates.
“Despite all the hardships of the past few years, we as producers must face the changes and realities and this requires an introspection to evaluate ourselves and the contribution we can make towards the agricultural sector and the economy of the country.
“Business as usual is a phenomenon of the past. The survival of the agricultural sector in Namibia needs a new way of thinking and planning, and a concerted cooperative effort,” Van der Merwe observed.
He also thanked government and President Hage Geingob for providing strong and visionary leadership to build a successful country and economy. He concluded with a quote from former Russian world chess champion Garry Kasparov, who famously said: “Capitalism is the biggest destroyer of poverty in the history of the world, whilst socialism and wars are the biggest creators of poverty.”