Windhoek-To address the skills gaps in the agriculture sector, the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry has identified Tsumis Arid Zone Agricultural Centre (TAZAC) in the Hardap Region and Mashare Agricultural Development Institute (MADI) in the Kavango East Region as government training institutions to implement the vocational education training (VET) training programmes in agriculture.
This is being done with the support of the Namibia Training Authority (NTA).
Vocational Training in Agriculture was previously non-existent in Namibia, and this has contributed to lack of semiskilled workforce in the sector.
As such, no accredited vocational training in agriculture existed in the country.
The permanent secretary in the agriculture ministry, Percy Misika said education, skills development and technical vocational training are central to agricultural production and rural employment in every country.
So far, 11 trainees already received their certificates after having undergone a 6-month foundation course in horticulture with particular emphasis on dates, grapes and vegetables production with a rigorous practical training at the Orange River Irrigation Project. The objective of this tailor-made course was to equip these young people with knowledge and skills that will enable them to embark upon commercial farming with export-oriented cash crops such as dates and grapes, amongst others.
Misika says this training is prerequisite for the participation in the commercial irrigation farming at any irrigation project under the Green Scheme and he thus urged trainees to become competent new irrigation farmers and not job seekers.
“I do not expect you to go and look for employment but I look at you as new commercial farmers, prospective employers and young entrepreneurs, who will make their mark in a highly competitive national and international market for crops and horticultural products, thereby contributing to the attainment of food self-security, and improved livelihoods,” he noted.
In order to accelerate the growth of agriculture in Namibia, Misika explained the Namibian government recognises the importance of increasing investments in human capital development by capacitating interested Namibians particularly the youth through VET.
With 25 percent of the population being youth (15-34 age group) and an unemployment rate of 37.5 percent, Namibia has a large pool of labour force to achieve economic transformation.
Misika said the challenge however, is that the youth are unskilled and inexperienced.
According to the 2016 national statistics, 20 percent of the total population is employed in agriculture sector. However, only 11.2 percent of the people working in the agriculture sector are skilled meaning, 88.8 percent are unskilled.
He revealed the two centres admit young Namibian between the age of 16 to 35 years with minimum Grade 10 certificate and agricultural background from across the country.
These centres provide agricultural vocational education and training by offering short courses and one-year training courses by offering a Certificate in Livestock Husbandry and a Certificate in Horticulture and Crop Husbandry at Level 2 respectively.