WINDHOEK - The Executive Director at the Ministry of Poverty Eradication and Social Welfare Esther Lusepani said the importation of food by the ministry to be distributed by government to needy households is not by choice but by design.
She says the ministry of poverty eradication and social welfare is being compelled to import cooking oil, beans and rice because these goods are usually very difficult to source from local suppliers who normally have insufficient stocks.
Lusepani was responding to the remarks made last week by the Swapo Youth League (SPYL) Secretary Efraim Nekongo saying some government ministries, especially the Ministry of Poverty Eradication and Social Welfare imports the food items that are being distributed to needy households through the Food bank.
Nekongo spoke out against the importation of food and other goods at the expense of local producers and farmers who have to keep up with South African producers and he even made reference to a local farmer who was unable to market his millet. He made the remarks at a press conference held at Swapo Party headquarters.
Nekongo felt the Ministry of Poverty Eradication and Social Welfare should empower local providers, instead of purchasing food from retailers in South Africa.
“I call upon the ministry of poverty eradication to stop with the importation of food for the food bank. They must procure locally produced food, and if such food is not locally available, the ministry must with immediate effect invest in the capacities for local production of such products,’’ the SPYL leader had stressed.
However, Lusepani said they normally procure food from Agricultural Business Development Agency (Agribusdev) that most of the times cannot supply what it promises to supply to the ministry of poverty eradication and social welfare.
“The only thing we get from Agribusdev is maize, they promise oil but they cannot supply it, when we want beans they are unable to supply beans and when we want cooking oil they usually do not have any. What can we do apart from importing,” she said.
She advised unemployed Namibian youth to organise themselves to produce and process these products so that government can also support them.
For the 2018/19 financial year, an amount of N$70 million was utilised for the acquisition of food parcels and administration of the Food bank Programme.
The ministry distributes to 17,000 beneficiaries in the Khomas, //Kharas, Hardap, Kavango East and West regions.
*All the Permanent Secretaries in government are now being referred to as executive directors because the position permanent secretary was wrongly interpreted as permanent in nature which is not the case.