National Council member Damian Nakambare has urged the industrialisation ministry to put measures in place to ensure some basic dairy products are produced locally.
Nakambare said by producing locally, employment for the youth would be created, thus contributing to the growth of the economy.
The Swapo parliamentarian made the remarks while supporting the Control of the Import and Export of Dairy Products and Dairy Products Substitutes Bill on Monday in the National Council.
“The Bill has come at the right time when Namibia is highly dependent on dairy products from South Africa. We have seen during the declaration of state of emergency that resulted in the lockdown of borders how it affected the Namibian markets in terms of good and services coming from South Africa,” stated Nakambare, who is also the Nkurenkuru constituency councillor.
He added the Bill proposes measures such as prohibiting the import of all dairy products of certain class or their substitutes, into the country and similar measures related to the export of dairy products and their substitutes.
According to him, it should be understood that importation of goods also contributes to unemployment in the country.
The domestic industries can also be crippled due to the import of the countries where the wages are low and the domestic industries are unable to compete since they cannot lower their prices of goods. Nakambare added it is important to realise the competition from advanced economies in the dairy production sector effectively stalled and stopped short the production of local cheese and butter, as a result of local producers’ inability to compete fairly with the large volume of imports of dairy products.
According to Nakambare, it is a known fact the Bill will allow projects, small business and local companies to add value to local products, at the same time assess the local market and encourage the Namibian people to consume local products. “But my question is for how long are we going to import basic dairy products while we have farmers that can provide milk to produce dairy products. Currently, some farmers who are producing milk do not have the market where they can sell their milk. Establishing factories to produce the dairy products locally will be a welcome relief for many farmers in this country,” stated Nakambare.
During 2019, Namibia experienced a six percent decline in milk production due to poor rainfall.
According to the Namibia Dairies statistics, the Namibian annual production output dairy products needed is 38 million litres.
That is what the domestic market needs per year, of which 62% is imported from South Africa.
Namibia is only producing 38% locally. Therefore, parliamentarian Johannes Antsino called for the protection of the domestic industry.
“That shows how vulnerable the industry is and how critical is the need for protecting our local producers,” he noted.
Antsino said in as much as the government has to protect local producers, it is critical that they also have to accommodate the aspect of consumer protection.
He suggested this could be done by regulating the pricing of dairy products.
“Enacting this law should not be the end but we need to ensure that we a vehicle that is equipped with needed tools, namely, monitoring and evaluation, otherwise it will be a beautiful law that can be regarded as a toothless dog if we can’t maintain the above-mentioned aspects,” he remarked.
Apart from protecting the domestic industry, Antsino said there is also a need to identify challenges that are affecting this industry and to develop a policy that is aimed to assist the local producers of dairy products.