The Namibian (Windhoek)

Namibia: Communal Farmers Want More Support

THE Namibia National Farmers Union (NNFU), which represents communal farmers, says the Agriculture Ministry should formulate a comprehensive financing scheme in consultation with farmers.

At the moment, says the executive director of NNFU, Olaff Munjanu, communal farmers receive no support from Government other than the financing facilities of the Agribank of Namibia.

“We want to be part of the formulating process to ensure that it is favourable to the needs of communal farmers,” Munjanu said yesterday.

The NNFU held its national council meeting in Windhoek last week, which was attended by 50 communal farmers from each of the affiliated regions.

The meeting took issue with a scheme of the ministry under which the maintenance of water facilities was handed over to water point committees.

The water infrastructure was handed over to communities in 1992, but the NNFU says this is too costly for communal communities, and wants the maintenance function returned to the ministry as was the case before independence.

Additionally, said Munjanu, communities have never been sufficiently trained to maintain water infrastructure.

“We can take care of the water infrastructure, but we cannot rehabilitate and maintain it. We are not ready; Government must take care,” Munjanu said.

The union further urged Government to speed up drought relief. It complained that Kunene, which experienced a serious drought last year, only received food aid in August this year.

What also needs to be sped up, the union said, is the construction of agricultural development centres. The number of agricultural extension officers must also be increased and given better transport.

Internationally, the ratio between extension officers and farmers are one to 700. In Namibia, Munjanu said, the ratio is one to 2 000 in certain instances.

Munjanu said with more support from the ministry, the food security of communal households will be strengthened.

The union further wants more clarity on the ownership of Meatco.

Cabinet last month approved a new structure for Meatco in terms of which 70% will be owned by meat producers and 30% by the State.

Munjanu said the current arrangement leaves the agriculture minister with overriding powers, while power is taken away from farmers.

“This is uncalled for,” Munjanu said.

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