WINDHOEK - Environment and Tourism Minister Pohamba Shifeta says the commercialisation of wild and produced food could lead to diversification of income generating opportunities for rural Namibians.
He made the remarks when he addressed the high-level segment of the 14th Conference of the Parties (COP14) to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification in New Delhi, India yesterday.
The interactive dialogue focused on boosting sustainable value chains for land-based business.
Shifeta said the commercialisation of wild and produced food could also encourage better use of these resources and makes a positive contribution to farming systems and household food security while stimulating the development of Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs).
Equally, he added it could support harvesters to form organised producer groups, which are able to negotiate contracts directly with exporters and will ensure better income generation and food security in rural Namibia.
“The government of Namibia will continue mobilising resources to capacitate communities to develop a more in-depth understanding of food production and processing industry and work towards a consistent and effective supply chain whilst simultaneously ensuring that such production processes do not harm the land in particular and the environment in general,” Shifeta noted.
According to him, Namibia believes that the concept of sustainable food value chains can pave the way for sustainable land management, drives out of poverty and ensure environmental sustainability in developing countries.
Further, he stated communities living in the harsh and already marginal agro-environments often depend on indigenous natural plants for their livelihoods.
The challenge he notes is to support such communities to sustainably benefit from those resources.
He emphasised sustainable wild harvesting and trading of indigenous natural plants has the potential to contribute significantly to the alleviation of rural poverty and conservation of natural resources.
“Typically, it is the poorest of the poor, and more often women, living in rural areas that depend on indigenous natural plants to improve their food security and are increasingly engaged in the commercialisation of these products to improve their livelihoods,” he remarked.
Hence, he said the positive impact and the economic value of natural products on the conservation of indigenous natural plants in Namibia is widely recognised with government, civil society and community leaders alike, commonly managing resources as well as rural communities increasingly assuming more responsibility for the sustainable use and management of them.
The Minister alluded Namibia is committed to ensure the maintenance of health ecosystems on which rural households manage their livelihoods.
This, he says compliments the National Growth at Home Strategy that promotes and supports value addition, upgrading and diversification for sustained growth; securing market access at home and abroad; and improving the investment climate and conditions.
He informed delegates that the Namibian government is actively creating a conducive investment climate to increase the number of business operators in processing, quality testing and bioprospecting; and supports a market-driven development of the locally produced food and processing of indigenous natural plants in order to increase the number of collaborative projects with organisations in user markets.
“We believe in so doing, the quality and quantity of Namibian produced food and biodiversity-based ingredients will be improved and the capacity of our national institutions to meet national and international standards will be improved, resulting in the betterment of our people’s livelihoods and creating incentives for conservation and sustainable use of our land resources,” Shifeta indicated.
2019-09-11 07:49:34 12 days ago