Love it or hate it, agribusiness is the main player in the realm of food and fibre production. The days of the supposed idyllic rural farm life are largely, having been replaced by super-sized farms run with the increasingly specialized technology.
There is nothing inherently wrong with technological advancement. In fact, it is key to the so-called evolution of the human race. Still, every choice is a tradeoff and every opportunity comes at a cost. Agribusiness, however, remains one of the most underrated aspects of agriculture.
The high number of poverty in the country calls for innovative approaches to addressing such challenges and venturing into a business is a feasible option.
Agribusiness is described as the business sector encompassing farming and farming-related commercial activities. The business involves all the steps required to send an agricultural good to market: production, processing, and distribution.
The term “agribusiness” was coined in the 1950s by John Herbert Davis and Ray A. Goldberg to reflect the two-way interdependence between business people and farmers in the dual roles of suppliers and purchasers. Business firms that serve agriculture rely on farmers for their markets and for some of their supplies.
By the same token, farms could not operate without businesses that manufacture farm supplies and those that store, process, and merchandise farm commodities.
Communal farmers already have the odds stacked up against them. Some of these are historical in origin relating to past neglect and marginalization under the apartheid system.
The denial of the means to advance over many years has induced a unique blend of sociological lethargy and remarkable human coping mechanisms in the population of these areas.
In addition, the farmer is also confronted with a harsh uncompromising natural environment, vast distances, incipient drought, and progressive natural degradation.
Also, Namibia has one of the highest levels of income inequality in the world, giving rise to widespread poverty. Subsistence farming forms the larger of the two major concentrations of poverty (the other being the unemployed urban poor).
Land tenure continues to be an issue. Namibia has limited arable areas available, soils of low inherent fertility, a fragile ecosystem, and erratic rainfall.
Opportunities exist for redressing the legacy of the past, by creating mechanisms for the indigenization of both new and existing economic activities. Some of the areas with potential for indigenization are processing of pearl millet and horticultural production and marketing amongst others.
There is evidence that official development assistance to developing countries has been declining in real terms since the mid-1980s. Given this trend, it is necessary for developing countries to design strategies for fostering economic development with less aid and more sustainability.
The capacity building development in the model emphasizes the empowerment of individuals, households, local communities, and small business associations to solve their own problems.
Time is now ripe to harvest from the plenty of opportunities agribusiness provides.