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Letter - Funding needed to drive agribusiness growth

2024-04-12  Correspondent

Letter - Funding needed to drive agribusiness growth

Josua Ndakwenonghwe

THE majority of Namibia’s rural populace, predominantly situated in the northern regions of the country, relies heavily on subsistence farming practices, encompassing both livestock husbandry and crop cultivation, primarily sustained by seasonal rainfall.

However, recurring droughts, unpredictable rainfall patterns and the broader impact of climate change continue to pose significant challenges, perpetuating food scarcity in these communities.

Presently, the adverse effects of deficient rainfall and intense heatwaves are manifesting, with the Zambezi region already grappling with drought conditions compounded by a locust outbreak. While governmental drought relief efforts are customary, they offer short-term alleviation without addressing the root causes or fostering sustainable solutions.

Namibia’s heavy dependence on South Africa for processed agricultural goods, coupled with a burgeoning population now reaching three million, with 71% composed of both employed and unemployed youth, underscores a pressing need for strategic intervention. At a recent gathering in Ohangwena region, governor Sebastian Ndeitunga emphasised the imperative of transcending conventional barriers to stimulate innovative approaches towards ensuring sufficient food production at regional and national levels.

These developments serve as poignant reminders to both the public and private sectors, as well as non-governmental organisations, of the urgent necessity to establish robust frameworks for financing entrepreneurship in agribusiness, particularly targeting the youth demographic, widely recognised as agents of transformative change.

Despite prevalent misconceptions portraying Namibian youth as disinclined to engage in agricultural ventures, the primary obstacle lies in securing adequate funding for their startups and small- to medium-scale agricultural enterprises.

Financial institutions, including key entities such as Agribank and the Development Bank of Namibia, typically impose stringent terms and conditions that are seldom conducive to youths embarking on business ventures, whether at the ideation or operational stage, whether registered or unregistered with the Business and Intellectual Property Authority (Bipa). 

Consequently, only a fraction of enterprising Namibian youths opt to participate in fiercely- competitive continental and global business competitions and mentorship programmes, such as BeChangeMaker Africa, and initiatives by organisations like the Tony Elumelu Foundation in Nigeria, seizing upon seed capital opportunities to actualise their entrepreneurial aspirations, given the dearth of viable funding avenues domestically.

Unless public and private stakeholders, alongside other pertinent actors, acknowledge the critical importance of strategic investments in skill enhancement, mentorship and facilitating favourable financial provisions, Namibian youth will continue to grapple with unrealised agricultural innovations that harbour immense potential to drive employment generation, community advancement and the nation’s overall economic prosperity. 

As an entrepreneur myself, I am intimately acquainted with the frustrations engendered by this prevailing predicament.


*Josua Ndakwenonghwe is an academic and young Namibian entrepreneur.

2024-04-12  Correspondent

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