WINDHOEK – Communal farmers converge on the village of Otjinene in the Otjinene Constituency this Thursday for the second time this year in a series of meeting where they address pertinent issues surrounding farming.
An initiative of veteran farmer Albert Tjihero, and thus unofficially referred to as the Tjiherero series, but official titled Harambee Vision 2030, provides farmers, especially from the various communal areas of the countries with a platform to exchange ideas and brainstorm on solutions to their common problems relating to farming. The first in the series this year was in January in Windhoek, when farmers working in Windhoek addressed various issues of concern to them, among them the then rumoured banning of the export of weaners to South Africa.
This Thursday, the farmers will after a presentation from experts on the Veterinary Cordon Fence [VCF] discuss the possible implications, whether in terms of any benefit to them and/or impact on their farming activities of the removal of the VCF. President Hage Geingob has recently reiterated the government’s intention to see the Red LINE removed for the majority of Namibians to be integrated in the country’s lucrative beef industry. “Our beef is demanded, but we don’t have beef. We have to open up the Red Line so we can have more beef,” Geingob has been quoted by the Namibia Press Agency [Nampa] telling reporters.
The farmers in Otjinene are further looking at the never-ending issue of permits and auctions as a means of livestock marketing, especially in the communal areas reviewing how they currently work and how it could be improved so that other people than farmers could benefit from such events such as food vendors. Another issue coming under the microscope is the old age tradition of agricultural shows in the communal areas from which farmers had in the past been benefitting by benchmarking their farming activities, especially animal husbandry, to that of fellows. However, these days such shows seem to have been replaced by expos where the emphasis is more industrial, rather than agricultural, especially animal husbandry.
Last but not the least, the upcoming Second National Land Conference in October will be highlighted by the farmers. Farmers will in particular be interrogating the government’s High Level Committee on land and how they are represented on it and whether they would need to seek through one of the other channel representation. Not only this but they are also further looking into how they can and may be represented at this conference. Tjihero is categorical that while the Namibia National Farmers Union [NNFU] may be represented on the High Level Committee, 99 percent of the union does not represent some communal farmers, particularly those in conservancies and in cooperatives.
He says the idea of the series of farmers’ meeting is for them to exchange ideas and common problems and to channel them where they think they will receive a listening, if not for where they may receive good reception to be channeled further to the relevant instances which could positively respond to them in terms of finding solutions to them. Thus, as yet there’s no intention of creating a permanent and separate structure for channeling the farmers common concerns.
It is up to farmers attending the meeting to learn something from fellows and to take it back to their structures and to ensure that such take them on board and act upon them. “The reality is that as farmers, we cannot sleep on our challenges for them to become a burden,” emphasises Tjihero.