RUNDU – Optimal production in the Kavango East region is hindered by a lack of infrastructure, such as boreholes, proper roads and cellular network coverage.
Kavango East Regional Farmers Union (Kerfu) secretary Thimoteus Kativa, in an interview with New Era, said Kavango East has the potential to develop and grow the agricultural sector, increase employment opportunities and thereby curb poverty.
“Our farmers just need support from government and stakeholders – and that will change farming in the region,” he said.
The region has vast grazing land for livestock and fertile land for horticulture.
“Government should invest more in Kavango East small scale commercial farmers in order for these farmers to flourish. Government’s engagement with the union is key to the success of these farms, since the union is well informed about challenges experienced by farmers – and as the Kerfu leadership, we are also farmers ourselves,” Kativa said.
He stressed the need for strong linkages to other economic sectors and to expand access to markets by assisting rural producers, associations and youth, as well as women to respond to market demands.
Kativa said market infrastructure should be widened and strengthened to help farmers sell their products at better prices. He is thus campaigning for a price support policy to be developed and adopted, through which minimum prices should be guaranteed to farmers.
“Increase public and private investments (funding) such as roads, waterways, transport systems, storage, market facilities and livestock in the rural areas facilities, which will encourage our farmers to produce more for sustainability,” he noted.
According to the Kerfu secretary, adequate credit facilities should be made available at reasonable and affordable rates to farmers in the rural areas.
“Our call is for small scale commercial farmers to also be given title deeds they can use to access funds from commercial banks by using the farm as collateral. We also want the ministry of agriculture, water and land reform to treat small scale farmers the same as resettled farmers who qualify for post settlement loans from Agribank for the mere fact that they are resettled and need capital support,” he said.
“Capital injection in rural farming will strengthen food security and guarantee sufficient and nutritious food for the majority of rural communities. This, in turn improves social conditions of rural people.”