Landless People’s Movement parliamentarian Henny Seibeb has decried the allocation of N$1.2 billion to the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Land Reform, describing the allocation as a “joke”.
Contributing to the budget debate in the National Assembly last week, Seibeb said the allocated amount for both food production and buying of resettlement farms is not enough.
“Food production alone must be allocated N$1 billion – at least for the next three years in order to invest in huge crop plantations in the Zambezi, Kavango, //Kharas, Hardap regions, and feedlots, etc.,” Seibeb said.
He advised government to scrap the Kalimbeza rice project in the Zambezi region, which has been dormant and has never yield any profit in the past 10 years.
“Various crop production systems could be employed in dryland and irrigated agriculture, with varying degrees of water consumption,” Seibeb said.
According to him, Namibia has a low level of agricultural capital intensity and less research and development is being done.
“It would be better to discuss a bill on food production, food security and water management in this assembly. In the next Appropriation Bill, we should categorise food production and food security as its own budget vote.”
He said while scientific evidence points to an increase in frequency and severity of drought, the occurrences are approached as an emergency management issue and not as a recurrent issue for which proper planning and budgeting is needed.
“The occurrence of extreme weather conditions leading to drought is typically beyond the control of individual governments. In particular, the provision of emergency relief is generally triggered by a formal emergency declaration, whose existence and timing may be subject to political influence.”
Seibeb said to avoid such emotional political influence, a permanent annual budget for drought should be considered with at least N$1 billion.