Namibia: Genuine Agriculture Transformation As a Cornerstone of Food Security

6 September 2019

Agriculture is one of the most important sectors in the Namibian economy. Despite the continued effects

of climate change, Namibia has been blessed with rich fertile land in various parts of the country, in

particular the northern areas of the country such as the Ohangwena, Kavango West and East, Zambezi,

Oshana and Oshikoto regions.

The sector is also recognized as one of the country's most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. The predicted increase in temperature and evaporation as well as increased variability of rainfall adds to

the existing challenges that Namibia is faced with. Challenges which continue to threaten the country's

path to development. Farmers are struggling to harvest effectively due to the change in climatic conditions.

This means that the nation is going hungry, and a hungry nation is an angry nation.

As many people around the country continue to flock to urban centers from rural areas searching for

employment and a better living standard, we need to explore ways of providing opportunities for youth in

rural areas to incentivize them to develop the regions they currently inhabit. We can minimize the process

of migrating to the city by providing agricultural facilities for those able to provide a livelihood in rural

areas and small towns.

Challenges such as urbanization can also be avoided should we cooperate as 'one Namibia, one nation'

and make agriculture a priority. The latest statistics confirm that agriculture, as a sector, has not been

fully exploited considering it only contributes 6.7 percent to the country's GDP. Agriculture is of such

importance that it can lead to higher job creation and economic growth; increased food productivity;

the reduction in food prices; and create greater sustainable employment opportunities in both rural

and urban areas.

The country is also blessed with rich mineral resources, but that is becoming increasing unsustainable considering that most of the mines are closing down and retrenching employees. What will happen in such cases where the country depends on something that could not be sustained? What if food production from South Africa could no longer reach Namibia? What if there will be no rain for the next five years or so?

How is Namibia going to feed the next generation if agriculture is not fully part and parcel of sustainable

development? Namibia has been through economic crises and the government alone will be unable to feed and support the agricultural sector. Private sectors as well as individuals should join and work hand

in hand to assist the county to achieve its goals and mission by supporting the farmers with boreholes,

drilling machines and other farming infrastructure for the benefit of those in rural areas. These alone

could create employment in all fields of study such as engineers who would be drilling the boreholes;

accountants for bookkeeping; logistical professionals for transportation; lawyers for legal representation and administrators for record keeping, just to name a few.

Most of the farmers residing in the northern part of the country depend solely on the rainfall when

deciding to cultivate their fields. However, in this current economic predicament and drought, they

can be encouraged to start with crop farming when provided with boreholes in each of their villages, if

possible.

Let the ministry of agriculture step up and start focusing more on transforming agriculture rather

than focusing on green schemes alone. There is a need to engage and empower the unemployed graduates, especially those from Neudam and other agricultural faculties, to actually help them utilise their skills into agriculture. Let the ministry of agriculture invest in agriculture to end poverty and hunger in our country.

The World Bank proved that agricultural development and its financing thereof, is one of the most powerful

tools to end extreme poverty. Namibia can make use of this opportunity and solve challenges that the country is facing by providing machinery and infrastructure to various farmers in villages.

That way households can be encouraged to produce a variety of fresh products and be able to feed their

families without having to depend or rely on the food bank. Enterprise development will be assured

too, Amta could partner up with local farmers and start supplying fresh local produce which would

directly or indirectly feed non-governmental as well as government organisations such as the ministry

of education through hostels, ministry of safety and security through the state prisons and the ministry

of health through admitted patients and so forth.

Fellow young Namibians! Let us work hard and continue advocating for agricultural transformation

as an option to establish our own food security, create sustainable employment, eradicate poverty and

advance economic emancipation. We can no longer continue depending on imported food products that

this country can provide. The situation of xenophobia in South Africa is a tough learning lesson to us

Namibians not relying on South Africans' agricultural fresh commodities.

Ephraim Nekongo is Secretary of the Swapo Party Youth League.

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