Despite the disaster conditions in agriculture, the explosion of charcoal and fodder (bush feed) production in the central and northern parts of the commercial farming area has created employment opportunities at a time many dismissals are taking place in the rest of the economy.
This was revealed in a survey conducted at the annual congress of the Agricultural Employers Association that was held last Tuesday and attended by 60 representatives of 47 farmers associations.
According to the latest Namibia Agricultural Union newsletter, the two labour intensive production processes have resulted in more workers being employed on the farms than in the past 3-5 years.
NAU president Ryno van der Merwe, in his opening address said the sector has never yet had such difficult circumstances of a negative concurrance of circumstances.
He said that during the second national land conference president Hage Geingob challenged commercial farmers to improve the living conditions of their workers. This challenge was accepted and resulted in the NAU farm workers' project being started which will be implemented over the next three years.
The aim of this project is to improve the living conditions of farm workers and to build the image of agriculture.
AEA chairman Hellmut Förtsch expressed the hope that workers will not be dismissed in this drought period.
Graig Deall of Zimbabwe who was the keynote speaker, gave a striking message of hope.
He was a very successful third generation farmer in Zimbabwe for 30 years, before he lost his farm and all his assets in the country's controversial land reform process. He had to choose: Does he fight back; leave the country or forgive?
He chose to stay and to forgive and spoke about his way to becoming the CEO of the organisation 'Foundations for Farming'.
This organisation developed an agronomy model under which they teach poor people in Africa on the simple principles of planting a small piece of land and feed their families from that.
Christine Stoman made a submission about options and costs of housing and retirement plans for farm workers which will be put onto the NAU's website.
Danie van Vuuren then submitted a three-year consolidated plan compiled from the survey of farm workers received by members.
The following AEA executive members were elected for the next year: chairman, Hellmut Förtsch; vice chairman, Christine Stoman; management member for south, Wessel Kruger and management member for north, Charlotte Hellinghausen.
Christoph Knye was elected management member for central to replace Sigi Heimstädt who has resigned.