RUNDU – The Kavango East Regional Farmers Union (KERFU) has called for amendments to some provisions of the Public Procurement Act to compel businesses that are awarded public tenders to procure locally produced agricultural products to supply government institutions in their respective areas.
Speaking on behalf of farmers, KERFU chairperson Adolf Muremi said at a press briefing here that he wants companies that get tenders to supply food, to source fresh produce from local farmers and meat products from local producers.
“This will create a sustainable market for horticulture and livestock products in the northern communal areas (NCAs) and prevent fresh produce and meat from being sourced from the south, to allow NCA farmers to occupy the existing market space,” stressed Muremi.
Muremi says NCA farmers should be given priority to supply the existing market for food being procured for government institutions that are located in these areas.
“For as much as the union wants Meatco to occupy its rightful position in the meat industry as per its legal mandate, it is not entirely correct to say there is a lack of market for NCA meat and meat products in the NCAs. We believe government institutions situated in NCAs present the largest market for NCA meat and meat products,” stressed the unionist.
He also touched on the point of road infrastructure that is currently a problem in Kavango East as it has poorly developed road network to link farmers to different markets, and that, according to Muremi, hinders meat production.
“A properly developed road network is necessary as it links meat producers, meat processors, meat distributors to meat consumers. In simple terms it connects farmers to the market. A well-developed road network facilitates the movement of produce from the farm to the market,” he said.
Muremi said production without marketing is futile and as much as the union appreciates the Roads Authority (RA)’s five-year strategic plan to construct, rehabilitate, re-gravel, reseal and upgrade the road network in Kavango East, the union has discovered that none of the roads mentioned in the five-year plan will bring maximum benefit to farmers in small-scale commercial farming areas.
“Our union is calling for the construction of feeder roads which will pass through small-scale commercial farming areas. The prioritised feeder roads which will benefit farmers are Vikota/Nhoma road and Mutwe goMbahe/Aasvoelnes road,” he stated at the media briefing.
The union believes that the above-mentioned roads if constructed will address farmers’ outcry over poor roads, in view of the fact that farmers will travel faster and will have short distances to branch to respective farms and it will significantly contribute to the region’s economy.
“The farmers will be able to move their produce from the farms to the market easily. These roads will also be a shorter and easier link between Kavango East with Otjozondjupa Region through the Tsumkwe area and so on,” Muremi said.
Livestock and crop farmers in Kavango East and Kavango West have over the years appealed to the government to put in place legislation to ensure locally produced food such as cabbage, onions, spinach, lettuce, tomatoes and even beef, pork and poultry are sourced locally as some supermarkets continue sourcing these foods from South Africa.