Windhoek – Presidential Affairs Minister Frans Kapofi says agriculture remains the backbone of the Namibian economy and should be aggressively commercialised.
Kapofi said this last week during a meeting with the president of the Namibian Agricultural Union (NAU), Ryno van der Merwe, in which he emphasised the importance of the contribution of commercial agriculture towards the country’s economy.
As special guest during the annual strategic planning session of the NAU, the minister stressed government’s commitment to agriculture and cited government’s intervention to open the border to South Africa for the export of livestock to that country as a show of its commitment to the sector.
With regard to land reform he expressed concern that some resettlement farms are not productive and encouraged farmers to assist where necessary. He referred to his own personal situation and how commercial farmers assisted him to commercialise his own farm.
Regarding the New Equitable Economic Empowerment Framework (NEEEF), which has caused pandemonium among sections of the local white business community, Kapofi said the ownership pillar of the policy must be reviewed.
He said the proposed 25 percent that white businesses have to avail to historically disadvantaged Namibians, will not solve the problem of inequality.
This view corresponds to President Hage Geingob’s statement at the recent Swapo policy conference, where he emphasised that the creation of prosperity should be focused on, rather than just re-distributing wealth and that this is the responsibility of everybody.
He re-affirmed that commercial farmers are very much part of the proverbial ‘Namibian House’, but also appealed to farmers to be more visible and to attend important national days, such as the Independence Day celebrations.
During the annual planning session of the Executive Council (EC) of the NAU the strategies of the NAU were scrutinised. Following input from members of the EC, macro-economic aspects, such as the environment in which we produce and what advantages can be bargained for NAU members were discussed.
As starting-point it was again emphasised that government is a strategic partner of the NAU and that better cooperation with government on political, as well as administrative level is necessary. Liaison with administrative personnel within the public service will be addressed.
The EC expressed its concern that the public often reacts based on perceptions regarding commercial agriculture and not on facts. The NAU will make an attempt to not only give its members factual information, but also to the general public regarding various aspects of the sector.
A series of meetings focusing on challenges of the commercial agri-sector will be held early next year. The various regions will be responsible to arrange the meetings and the dates will be announced well in advance.