Various players in the agriculture sector will today convene in Windhoek for a large-scale agriculture conference aimed at creating a platform for the exchange of ideas on how to maximize the potential of the agricultural sector.
The participants will ponder critical questions on the potential of the all-important agriculture sector, with special focus on how to transform it into a hub for decent employment creation, economic growth, and exports earnings.
A media statement by the event organizers, the Economic Association of Namibia, said the conference will bring together policymakers, scholars, donor agencies, financiers, civil society actors.
The conference is expected to devise strategies and practical solutions to tackle the current challenges faced by the sector through, among other things, the deployment of technology and modern agricultural methods, in the context of smart agriculture, as part of the overall plans for greening Namibia.
Amongst topics to be covered will be the Role of Morden Agriculture in Economic Development, Smart Agriculture Modules: The Potential of Greening Namibia and the Role of Land Reform in Maximizing Agricultural Output.
Topics related to maximizing the potential of the beef industry, water woes, emerging agribusinesses and developing the aquaculture, aqua ponies and hydroponics will also be covered.
Agriculture, Water and Land Reform minister Calle Schlettwein will officiate at the conference, themed “Maximizing Agricultural Potential for Namibia’s Development”.
The sector serves as an important impetus for economic growth and has played a central role in the economic transformation and prosperity of most advanced countries.
Moreover, development literature points out that growth in agriculture disproportionately benefits the impoverished sections of the population and hence contributes significantly to the reduction of poverty and
In Namibia, while the sector’s contribution to GDP has been decreasing over time (from 6.2% in 2005 to 3.9% in 2019), it is one of the biggest employers, contributing to approximately 167 242 jobs or 23% of the total employment in the country in 2013.
Furthermore, agricultural exports contribute significantly to exports earnings. In 2019, food and live animals exports contributed N$3.4 billion to foreign earnings, of which N$1.9 billion came from meat exports.
In addition to the above, agriculture is the lifeblood of rural Namibia, home to 50.1% of the total population. Also, 70% of all Namibians are dependent on farming for at least part of their food supplies.
Furthermore, rural Namibia serves as a social safety net for those who lose employment in urban centers or simply don’t make it in cities. Moreover, anecdotal evidence shows that farming areas serve as places of retirement for a substantial number of Namibia’s people.
Notwithstanding the above, the agricultural sector in Namibia is beset with tremendous challenges, owing mainly to the arid and semi-arid climate and reoccurring droughts in the country.
Droughts cause enormous losses to livestock and crops every few years, resulting in immense financial losses to commercial farmers and loss of livelihoods to substance farmers.
This year, the EAN will partner up with the Hans Seidel Foundation, Agribank, Namwater, GiZ and Namibia Media Holdings to draw together a diverse number of experts to share their views on the above topics.
“Key recommendations from the conference will be compiled in the form of a report and shared with policymakers, financiers, donor community and the public at large.
“We look forward to a broad-based participation by the public and sharing of stimulating ideas to mitigate the challenges facing this all-important sector of our economy, with the aim of unlocking thereto unexplored value chains,” Cons Karamata, Acting Director of EAN said.