Namibia was occupied and ruled by colonial powers for over 100 years. During those years our people were subjected to treatment which left them in abject poverty and the vast majority of the population is still living in utter misery. After independence our government tried its best to correct this situation.
But 27 years are not enough to completely eradicate poverty; however we are determined to bring about a meaningful change in the lives of our people. It is a matter of fact that we have a daunting task ahead to create better lives and opportunities for the suffering masses and to get them out of cycles of poverty and misery into an atmosphere of economic prosperity. The challenges are many. Now that we are about to celebrate our Party's 58th birthday we have to seriously address the future economic prosperity of the masses whom we liberated from colonialism.
As much as there are many ways of doing this I think agriculture is one of the basic sectors that we have to give priority. The Ministry of Agriculture is, indeed, trying its best to develop agriculture but it must be given more financial support to turn the country into a breadbasket. Surely agriculture is one of the economic sectors, which has the potential to help our people to improve their living standards, if properly financed. There should be deliberate efforts to help the farmers to improve the efficiency, productivity, sustainability and profitability of farming. As much as farming communities have to endure and battle against difficulties and circumstances that they have no control over they must be helped to have passion for what they do and love to live where they work and work where they live.
Agriculture is a major source of export in many Southern African countries contributing to 13 percent to total exports. It also employs many people in the region. It serves as an engine to provide food security and contributes to the country's GDP growth.
The majority of our land be it commercial or resettlement farms or communal areas, has the potential to produce sufficient food for our country.
There is just a need to have well-thought-out policies, sustainable and vibrant agricultural activities to ensure that the nation is food secured, thus liberating people from poverty and hunger.
One thing for sure, much of our land is underutilised because of many reasons such as insufficient funds and lack of determined and well organised programmes, particularly for communal farmers, aimed at enabling the people to turn the country into a crop paradise.
This does not mean that efforts are not being done to produce food but we can surely do more to turn the country into crop heaven. The government should seriously find a way to subsidise the infant agriculture farming communities.
The focus of the government policy must be on increasing the capacity building of the farming communities in order to keep the new entrants on the land through providing them with the vital and necessary support that will guarantee their success. If many people in rural areas will be helped to produce crops and sell to retailers that situation will also reduce the migration of the rural population to towns where people are coming in search of work and end up suffering.
In order to achieve this there must be clear programmes of the State that can help people to produce more food. Poverty eradication will eventually be achieved. This country must be ready to sacrifice appropriate funds into these ventures to turn the country into a breadbasket.
The economic activities will not only benefit the producers but they will create employment opportunities for other people too. A good example is what Comrade Sam Nujoma did when he turned Namibia into a grape exporting country. Today our grapes are exported to European markets. He also initiated the Etunda agricultural project which is today supplying food in the northern part of the country.
There are equally important projects of the government which are under the Ministry of Agriculture; but we can do more than that if such projects are prioritised.
There are also problems that are negatively affecting the agricultural sector which the government must take seriously. As the situation is today the deteriorating infrastructure on agricultural land and expensive agriculture inputs is increasingly forcing new entrants to abandon their farming areas. This expensive agribusiness has direct negative impact on the sustainability and viability of the farming sector and particularly the new entrants into that sector as they find it difficult to cope with these challenges.
In addition to these the farming community is burdened with heavy land tax which was introduced after independence. During colonial times there was no land tax imposed on farmers and that was one of the incentives which colonisers deliberately gave to their farmers, but for reasons not known to me we instead started to burden farmers with unbearable land