Staff Reporter Windhoek Reports from the Agricultural Bank of Namibia have indicated that both farmers with loans from the Affirmative Loan Scheme (AALS) and Resettlement Programme have been performing poorly because of lack of capacity and inadequate and unstructured support services by various stakeholders. This prompted the government to embark on the Capacity Building Strategy for AALS and resettlement farmers. The second phase of this initiative was launched by the Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Water and Forestry (MAWF), Anna Shiweda, on Tuesday in Windhoek. The first phase was implemented under the Ministry of Land Reform with Agribank but the initiative has now been transferred to the MAWF, which is now to continue with its second phase. This is to facilitate and improve the provision of services such as extension and training to the benefiting farmers. Shiweda says following compilation of the Agribank reports, government recognised the importance of capacitating farmers benefitting from the two schemes for more productivity. The deputy minister says that over the past years the government and its stakeholders in the agricultural sector have been working jointly and tirelessly to improve farming business on resettlement farms. This is to help farmers realise an improved livelihood. Hence the importance of the initiative in complementing activities supporting resettlement farmers. The objectives of the strategy are to provide targeted intervention to the resettlement scheme and AALS; provide rare stakeholders with a rare opportunity to deliver coordinated activities to the farmers; and to improve the service delivery of MAWF towards AALS and resettlement farmers. This is in line with MAWF’s mandate to promote, develop, manage and utilise agricultural, water and forestry resources. The expectation is for farmers to have better access to more and better-structured and consistent services once the strategy is fully implemented, making them more productive and self-sustaining. The strategy will also complement existing policies and strategies on national and household food security through empowering farmers. “The ministry recognises the existence of challenges that farmers experience during and after their transition from communal to commercial set-up. This strategy is therefore designed to address some of those challenges,” says Shiweda. Some of the strategic interventions would be the establishment and alignment of stakeholder platforms with existing coordination platforms; identification of incentives to support farmers; development of systems on farms visited and the provision of pre- and post-resettlement capacity building courses, amongst others. The deputy minister encourages all stakeholders to acquaint themselves with all strategic interventions contained in the document and to ensure that they are effectively and practically implemented. Agriculture like any other enterprise faces a number of risks in maintaining profits, and Shiweda believes that some of these challenges can be overcome if stakeholders work together and address them holistically, comprehensively and in a coordinated manner. She assures farmers of the continued coordination and support of the ministry’s extension and engineering services during implementation of the strategy. But to achieve a comprehensive coverage across the country, it is important for stakeholders to share responsibilities.
2017-12-12 09:51:19 9 months ago