Commercial farmer Sabas Taddeus in the Oshikuku constituency at Omusati region says lack of access to the market is one of the challenges faced by fresh produce farmers in the region.
Taddeus farming journey started three years ago when he sold his seven taxis to get startup capital for his vegetable garden.
The business started well – but soon, he realised there was no market for his bumper harvest at the end of the season.
“For as long as there is no market, we will continue to farm to put food on the table and not necessarily to become financially independent,” said Taddeus.
The farmers further claimed it is disheartening that produce from the project continues to be rejected in government institutions such as schools and hospitals, but they keep paying tax to government.
“The little we get from our produce as profits, the government continues snatching it from us, which is not fair; how are we going to survive?” stressed Taddeus.
He further stated those catering in government institutions continue to source products beyond the red line even for facilities in the Omusati region.
“We are thanking the street vendors; they are our source of income, although what we getting from them is not enough. Farmers are now a lot, especially in Omusati, but some stores are still buying from outside Namibia,” he said.
Taddeus said the outbreak of tomato hornworms on his farm have destroyed a portion of his tomato plantation.
Speaking on behalf of other farmers, they are pleading with the ministry of agriculture to look into issues of the market.
In 2019, the then finance minister Calle Schlettwein issued an economy-wide procurement directive on the reservation of procurement of goods, services and works to local suppliers in terms of Section 73 of the Public Procurement Act.
“As crop production increasingly comes under threat due to plant pests and diseases, there is a need to apply pest and disease control measures and medicines, which is costing us thousands and thousands,” Tandeus said.
Taddeus also said it is very sad that until now, he did not get the amount of money he invested in his vegetable garden.
“Farming is the best choice and could have helped a lot of us, but our government is failing us, which may lead to a high unemployment rate,” says Tanddeus.
According to Oshikuku councillor Mathew Gabriel, despite challenges facing farmers, food security remained satisfactory in the region, following significant improvements in agricultural production in the last couple of years.
“The majority of households are still dependent on their harvests for food access, which is very pleasing. Our region did not suffer during the time of Covid-19 lockdown in terms of food supply,” he said
Gabriel further stated some farmers have sold their surplus grains to commercial millers and individuals.
“Following a very good crop harvest received last season, many farmers recorded a bumper crop harvest, which is expected to sustain households to the next harvest,” says Gabriel.