WINDHOEK - Ancestral land first and foremost needs proper defining only then can the possible implications thereof be understood, says the Namibia Agricultural Union to the question what its position is to the ongoing debate on ancestral land and whether it could be the solution to the land question in the country.
“Expropriation without compensation is no option under present legislation and any steps to change the legislation will have severe consequences in terms of foreign investments and economic development in Namibia,” says NAU.
The NAU is aware about the fact that communal farmers south of the Veterinary Cordon Fence are already participating in the formal commercial marketing channels. However, challenges still exist for farmers in the more remote and often difficult to access areas says it about the ever present of lack of proper marketing facilities for farmers in the communal areas.
Regarding the Veterinary Cordon Fence which lately has equally been a much debatable issue following official pronouncements for its removal, especially by the President, Hage Geingob, the NAU strongly supports programmes to improve the animal health status, and thereby the livestock marketing status of the area north of the red line to enable producers north of the fence to participate in international markets. However, this needs to happen in a structured approach under the guidance of the competent authority, the Directorate of Veterinary Services of the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry. “We believe that the first step to improve the animal health status of the NCAs, is to erect a new veterinary cordon fence on the national border between Namibia and Angola. By doing this the NCA would benefit over time from the same markets as producers south of the Veterinary Cordon Fence.”
On the possible ban on the exports of livestock on the hoof, the NAU take note of this with great concern. “Namibia is a net exporter of cattle and sheep, because of the inherent ability to produce at international prices. Government was very successful in opening up some of the best international markets. The focus should be to ensure that export value chains operate in an internationally competitive manner, to realise the benefits of these international markets for Namibia,” it says.
It adds that Namibia does not have the grazing capacity to be able to grow out all weaner calves from seven months till slaughter age (±3years). Furthermore, Namibia is a drought-stricken country and thus in need of a live export market (presently the RSA market), to be able to quickly remove livestock which is not slaughter ready from the rangelands during times of drought. This live export market must be maintained as part of the different marketing options for a primary cattle producer.
NAU goes on that primary producers are price takers and cannot influence producer prices they receive, emphasising that the only way to ensure fair and market related producer prices is to ensure that competition in the market remains. Restriction of the live exports will reduce producer prices as competition will be reduced, and will not realise economic growth and employment creation. “Growth of the agricultural economy starts with growth of output of the primary agricultural sector. To achieve this, the capacity of Namibia’s rangelands needs to be restored by addressing the bush encroachment problem, production challenges in terms of poisonous plants, limited underground water, etc,” NAU points out.