Windhoek-The Namibia National Farmers Union (NNFU) and its affiliates, particularly from the regions of Omaheke and Otjozondjupa, have mapped the way forward and agreed to meet regularly.
This is to ensure that the NNFU leadership is in synchronisation and conversant and aware of the needs, interests and aspirations of their affiliates, especially from the two regions and their unique needs as red meat producers. The NNFU full executive met the leadership of the Omaheke Regional Farmers Union (ORFU) and the Otjozondjupa Communal Famers Union (OCFU) on March 3 in Otjinene to iron out misunderstandings between the communal farmers’ umbrella body on the one hand, and ORFU and OCFU on the other. Since the NNFU congress last year, which brought new leadership under president Jason Emvula, both ORFU and OCFU have been uncertain about NNFU representing their unique interests as red meat producers. In this regard, they submitted a litany of issues they wanted NNFU to address that NNFU has as yet to address, let alone find a platform for a mutual discussion of the said issues until recently.
Among the issues at the heart of the two affiliates, which mainly represent communal farmers from the two regions who are mainly livestock farmers, and thus red meat producers is the government’s policy of growth at home which has been embraced by NNFU to the uneasiness of ORFU and OCFU farmers. The farmers fear about the impact of the government’s growth at home strategy on the farming activities have lately been compounded by rumours of NNFU and the Meat Corporation of Namibia (Meatco) contemplating lobbying the government to slap a ban on the export of livestock to South Africa.
Vice-chairperson of ORFU, Peter Kazongominja, has confirmed that the affiliates and the umbrella body have agreed in principle that there is a symbiotic and mutually beneficial relationship between them and that the one cannot do without the other. He said the affiliates do not have a problem with the leadership of the mother body, which it has been elected legitimately but they feel structures must be created that can take care of the various interests of its membership and/or affiliates. He said, for instance, to care of these varied interests, such must not necessarily be represented on the leadership on structures such as commodity committees. He said the growth at home strategy must start somewhere like putting feedlots in place. Further, he said focus on rangeland must also be cognisant of the fact that most communal areas are bushes today and thus NNFU cannot speak of improving rangelands when there are no ranges. Thus, it can help farmers by helping them with de-bushing. In this regard, Kazongominja said regular consultations are necessary with members who all have their unique interests. Such regular consultations are also necessary to ensure that members are informed, even if only the leadership of the various affiliates because currently vital information does not seem to trickle down to the affiliates and the broader membership of the affiliates. The case in point is the position of NNFU on the growth at home strategy and well as the rumoured discussion between NNFU and Meatco regarding the ban of the export of livestock to South Africa.