New Era (Windhoek)

Namibia: Communal Farmers N$480 000 Richer

Windhoek — While less than one percent of Namibia is arable, almost 70 percent of its inhabitants are dependent on agriculture for a living. Moreover, the fastest sub-sector is livestock farming.

With these words, the Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Water and Forestry, Petrus Ilonga, yesterday morning officially launched the sponsorship event for the Communal Farmers' Consortium (CFC) in Windhoek.

To date, the Consortium has contributed more than N$ 3,6 million since its inception in 2004, and yesterday Meatco, the Meat Board, First National Bank, Agra, Feedmaster, Agribank and Telecom Namibia pledged another N$480 000 to support communal farmers.

Describing it as "extremely encouraging," Deputy Minister Ilonga said he was pleased to see that the Consortium was still going strong and living up to its commitment of being an active partner in the development of communal farmers.

"The commercial agricultural sector in Namibia is estimated at having approximately 50 000 workers (producing about 80 percent of the annual yield), while most of the subsistence sector is situated in communal areas.

"As stakeholders, everyone is well aware that this singular sector is critical for the well-being of the people and the prosperity of our nation. Hence, this initiative is to be commended as government alone cannot meet the many challenges facing it," said Iilonga. He was also pleased to hear that the Consortium makes use of the Namibian National Farmers' Union as the implementing partner for its development initiatives.

"This type of public private partnership with the union that represents the aspirations of communal farmers is the sort of smart partnership that government wants to see. Partnerships that take the resources to the rightful beneficiaries at grassroots level are something that will always enjoy the support of government.

"Namibia is a net exporter of meat and to support a viable and sustainable meat industry, it is imperative that farmers in the communal areas are fully integrated into the mainstream industry for the benefit of themselves and the wider economy," Iilonga said.

He said the Consortium's financial contribution towards the communal areas should be viewed in line with their development strategy of social upliftment.

"The value of expertise and good farming practices should not be underestimated. By constantly improving technology, and employing best practices in farming operations, we can increase the carrying capacity of our land, ensure long-term sustainable land use, and realise Namibia's own food security needs.

"This will create employment opportunities, enable us to be self-sufficient in terms of food production and stimulate secondary industries through local value addition.

"Namibia is already internationally recognised as an exporter of quality meat products, and strides have been made to spread the wealth created by this industry.

"It is through the commitment of each stakeholder that we will strengthen this sector for the greater good of our nation," he said. He concluded by saying the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry is committed to the success of the agricultural sector and believes that through collaboration with instances such as the Communal Farmers' Consortium, the country will achieve its broader goals of Vision 2030.

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