Windhoek — The main challenges for Namibia to be globally competitive are poverty, malnutrition and major inequalities, with unemployment estimated at 34 percent of the workforce. The country produces about only 40 percent of what it consumes and is therefore highly dependent on imports.
Guest speaker at the Livestock Producers Organisation (LPO) Congress last week, Dr John Purchase, the executive manager of the South African Agricultural Business Chambers, noted with concern that Namibian small scale farmers have limited access to food, because they are vulnerable to droughts, floods, low productivity and constrained access to land.
Dr Purchase stressed that economic development has the largest impact on food security. The current scenario is characterised by high levels of GDP per capita and low share of household expenditure on food. "Food-secure countries have developed infrastructures, including logistics systems, advanced agricultural infrastructure, and facilities and systems that support agricultural investment, and R&D development."
Namibia is currently number 90 out of 137 countries on the latest index in terms of competitiveness. Thus the country is regarded as a higher middle-income country with continued economic growth prospects. Purchase recommends that the value chain in terms of livestock competitiveness be investigated thoroughly to determine how competitive the sector is and to identify its week and strong points.
Among the factors impacting on her competitiveness are a decline in the quality of governance and low productivity; land tenure/ownership practices that restrict access to land - also to foreign investors; a deficit of technical skills; as well as policy restrictions on labour migration that restrict the entry of qualified staff from outside the country - even for a temporary period - to transfer knowledge are. Further foreign currency fluctuations and unreliable national data on key indicators, such as animal inventories and land availability, which affect investment and national planning for the sector need to be identified.