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From subsistence to profit … as govt pulls out all stops to feed nation

2021-03-02  Albertina Nakale

From subsistence to profit … as govt pulls out all stops to feed nation
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The majority of small-scale farmers remain trapped within the subsistence agriculture system and according to the authorities this has resulted in a slower transition in the local economy to more industrialised methods that produce sophisticated high-value goods for export and domestic markets. 

Since the start of the current marketing season in May 2020, more commercial imports were landed and by end of December 2020, Namibia had imported about 29 400 metric tons of cereal. This consisted of 15 100mt of wheat, 14 000mt of white maize and 500mt of mahangu.

These details are contained in the agricultural inputs and household food security situation report, which was released by the agriculture ministry recently. 

The import transactions covered the estimated deficit (wheat and maize) and resulted in a surplus of 127 100mt of cereal, comprising 85 400mt of wheat, 18 700mt of maize and 23 000mt of mahangu. 

For pearl millet grain (mahangu), there was a surplus of over 22 300mt, but due to the fact that most mahangu producers do not sell their grain, millers have been forced to import in order to maintain their production.

More commercial imports are expected before the current marketing season comes to an end on 30 April 2021. 

In 2015, Namibia imported about 76%, 89% and 91% of its demand for maize, millet and wheat respectively. Such dependency poses a food security and trade imbalance. 

The ministry’s spokesperson Chrispin Matongela said they will focus on increasing productivity and production in the agriculture sector through various interventions. This will include land development in communal areas, fair and equitable distribution of land for agricultural production accompanied by support packages for small-scale farmers to produce more, improvement of livestock quality by improving animal health and the availability of fodder and quality rangelands, enhancement of market access for livestock most especially in the northern communal areas (NCAs) and a NCA beef value chain development scheme. 

Other initiatives are the small stock value chain development scheme for small and medium-scale agricultural producers and agro-processors in the southern regions; enhancing water availability for agricultural production through rain and floodwater harvesting, and the establishment of small-scale irrigation farms, among others. 

Matongela stressed that the ministry understands that the agricultural sector is a key channel to sustainable economic and industrial development as it allows the development and diffusion of skills and technology into the rest of the economy. As a result the ministry developed a programme named ‘The Harambee Comprehensively Coordinated and Integrated Agricultural Development Programme’.

The programme is aimed at stimulating or catalysing high-quality production and market access for crop and livestock products especially from small and medium-scale agricultural producers and agro-processors.  

“The actualisation of the programme is thus central to addressing the current challenges through implementation of programmes which address the entire value chain from production to processing and marketing,” Matongela maintained. 

Furthermore, he said, the government is implementing several agronomic and livestock production programmes.  These include the dryland crop production programme, comprehensive conservation agriculture programme, cereal value chain, national horticulture support programme and the horticulture value chain development scheme.

Other programmes include the poultry value chain development scheme, dairy production value chain development scheme, as well as the small stock development and distribution in communal areas scheme. 

The overall objective of the projects are aimed at enhancing agricultural production and productivity along value chains, thereby improving food and nutrition security in the country. 

Furthermore, the ministry is implementing the Namibia agricultural mechanisation and seed improvement project. This project comprises two main components each with two sub-components. 

The first component is value chain improvement with agricultural mechanisation and certified seed system improvement as sub-components.  Matongela noted that all these are centered on the infusion of modern agricultural technologies for increased output and quality yields.


2021-03-02  Albertina Nakale

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