Stress in farming comes from much more than just the tillage of soil and harvest of crops. An aging population, advances in technology, and meeting consumer demands are all stress points new to the farmer's basket of concerns. As farmers get ready for one of the most stressful yet joyous times of year, it is important to remember resources that are available.
Indeed, programmes and other attempts by government and development agencies appear to have exacerbated rather than alleviated the difficulties emerging farmers face.
To-date, many emerging farmers still living below the poverty line are faced with difficulties in migrating into the commercial agricultural sector. The failure of several attempts by the government to integrate emerging farmers into the commercial agricultural economy has increased the need for a well-grounded scientific knowledge and a thorough understanding of these challenges that emerging farmers face.
A better understanding of specific factors that limit the development of emerging farmers is crucial to effectively prepare policies, develop strategies, programmes and models aimed at supporting and enhancing the transition of emerging farmers into commercial agricultural farming.
Namibia can no longer afford to run the risk of development programmes and policy intervention aimed at emerging farmers that do not work, seemingly not because they are not working but because the challenges emerging farmers face were not correctly identified.
Commercialisation of emerging farmers is a crucial topic for the current times in Namibia and the entire African continent at large. We need to understand exactly what the factors are that limit the transition of emerging farmers in many parts of the country from successfully participating in commercially viable markets.
It is assumed that commercialisation of subsistence agriculture implies increased participation in remunerative agricultural commercial output markets. How true is this for the merging farmer?
Attempts by farmers to market their commodity are mostly affected by poor infrastructure, inadequate property rights and low education levels amongst the farmers.
A lack of credit access, absence of innovative production implements needed to increase yield of commodity produced, and poor entrepreneurial skills needed to make the efforts of the farmers a success also contribute to these hardships.
Amongst the marketing challenges farmers face are high transportation costs. Marketing transport is important, as it links the farmers to the markets or consumers on time. The availability of one's own market transport influences the delivery time of produce to the markets, unlike the case of farmers who depend on hired transport or public transport for their produce.
The provision of support services remains one of the major important interventions in the agricultural sector for rural development, commercialisation, food security, poverty alleviation and income generation of emerging farmers.
Most importantly, the commercialisation of emerging farmers cannot be achieved without appropriate farmer support services. With adequate access to farmer support services, emerging agriculture can contribute to an increased agricultural growth, rural development and have a positive impact on the farm income.