Windhoek-Minister of Agriculture, Water and Forestry John Mutorwa has urged the newly appointed members of the Namibian Agronomic Board (NAB) to soon set up a committee to study the Agronomic Industry Act of 1992 and its regulations.
Mutorwa said this should be done with the aim of proposing several amendments to strengthen the existing law and its regulations.
The Act, which was promulgated and gazetted on August 28, 1992 after it was signed into law by then president Sam Nujoma, is now 25 years old.
Mutorwa appointed 13 board members out of more than 25 candidates who applied to serve on the NAB for a three-year term as of July 3 this year to July 3, 2020.
The NAB’s composition is stipulated in Section 4 of the Agronomic Industry Act, as amended by Schedule 2 of the State Owned Enterprises Governance Act of 2006.
On April 18 the ministry placed a public notice in the daily press inviting organisations and interested individuals to forward applications with their curricula vitae (CVs) by May 5, for possible appointment as NAB board members.
Mutorwa yesterday announced that more than 25 applications were received, out of which 13 persons have been appointed as NAB members, following unanimous collective endorsement by Cabinet on June 20.
The 13 members to serve on the NAB as untl 2020 are Michael Iyambo (chairperson), Maria Muller (vice chairperson), Josephine Nakwedi Fugre, Jason Emvula, Ferdina Magano Inkono, Andreas Lutgerus Kolver, Jocelyn Karin Tjijombo-Kangotue, Elinah Mwaka Kalundu, Leon Nel, Lukas Mbangu, Wilhelmine Handunge, Hubertus Hamm and Tarcisius Shingundu.
Mutorwa said such proposed amendments would be in addition to the amendments made about four years ago, dealing in particular with the clear delineation of NAB, the Agricultural Marketing and Trade Agency (AMTA), and AgriBusDev’s mandates and responsibilities.
He further said the Amendment Bill was cleared and approved by the Cabinet Committee on Legislation in early 2015 and questioned why it was taking so long for the legal drafters to finalise the Bill.
“For example, the current definition of ‘agronomic crop’ in the Act appears vague. Why can the definition not list the names of the crops that fall under the category agronomic crops?”
“Who recommends to the minister that a certain crop should be gazetted as an agronomic crop? How regularly is it done?
“So, the definition of a ‘controlled product’ also requires a concise and precise definition. The current definition is ambiguous,” he remarked.
Mutorwa thanked the new board members for their eagerness and willingness to serve the local agronomic sector for three years as NAB members – that is until and unless any provision of Section 6 of the Act, entitled ‘Vacation of Office by Board Members’ is invoked.
“All NAB members are hereby urged and advised to henceforth properly acquaint yourselves with all the 26 sections of the Agronomic Industry Act of 1992, as well as all the applicable and relevant provisions of the State Owned Enterprises Governance Act, 2006.”
Mutorwa also urged the new board members to acquaint themselves with the law and regulations on the “restriction of importation and exportation of controlled products”.
He said he paid a working visit to the Zambezi Region from June 28 to July 2, where he was briefed about a bumper maize harvest in that region.
He further directed that the maize be bought by both the country’s millers and the government’s AMTA.
Mutorwa said the aim was for AMTA to fill the government’s national strategic grain reserves (silos) with grain from the government’s green scheme irrigation projects, as well as from individual farmers, who wish to sell to AMTA.
Minister Mutorwa was evidently glad to announced that like previous boards, the 2017–2020 NAB is gender-balanced and includes six women and seven men.
The outgoing board was chaired by a woman and deputised by a man. The incoming board will be chaired by a man and deputised by a woman.