FAO boosts support to Namibian agriculture

Home Business FAO boosts support to Namibian agriculture

By Deon Schlechter

WINDHOEK – Namibia last week strengthened its goals of better control of food safety, plant and animal pests and diseases affecting agricultural productivity.

This follows the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) in Windhoek last week between the Namibian Standards Institution (NSI) and the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).

The MoU follows a few days after President Hifikepunye Pohamba endorsed technical assistance to the value of N$40 million in support of the FAO programme during the African Union Heads of State Summit in Equatorial Guinea.

The keynote speaker at the MoU signing ceremony in Windhoek, FAO Representative Dr Babagana Ahmadu, noted how innovation can help developing countries address the many challenges they face in agriculture, fisheries, rural development and natural resource management, stressing the importance of the MoU between the FAO and NSI.

“It is the intention and hope of the FAO and the NSI that this agreement will put us on the path of progress in improving agro-industry productivity and trade. The MoU will help us to align activities, focus on strengthening the capacity of the NSI and related industry players, and achieve mutually beneficial results, creating stronger systems of national agro-standards management, and higher quality of agro-products and information, culminating in increased output of marketable products and industry competitiveness,” he noted.

He said encouraging rural producers to participate more in local markets and supporting more commercialised producers to better access sophisticated value chains raise different issues with respect to both their ability and willingness to increase production for sale. “There is no ‘one size’ fit all solution to encourage greater market participation by smallholders,” he observed.

Speaking at the same event the CEO of the NSI, Riundja Ali Kaakunga, invited all Namibian entrepreneurs, the public sector and development cooperation partners to join resource mobilisation efforts for the successful implementation of the MoU.

Representing the Ministry of Trade and Industry, Acting Director of Commerce Maria Pogisho said the MoU was the start of a mutually beneficial long-term working relationship which both parties can one day look back on with pride.

 “FAO will draw on its global experience through its large number of projects  covering all aspects of food safety systems, good agricultural practices and certification within a holistic food chain approach in a cost-effective manner. We remain fully committed to working with Namibian authorities to achieve these objectives for the benefit of the Namibian people,” said Ahmadu.