Staff Reporter Windhoek-The highly anticipated second national land conference should not be postponed again as the unequal marketing opportunities for communal and commercial farmers need to be addressed urgently to provide an equal playing field for all. This is according to farmer and chief organiser of the annual Okamatapati Show, Albert Tjihero, who brought together farmers in August last year to brainstorm on the envisaged second land conference. Tjihero says the negative line of thinking of some white farmers, 28 years after independence, is still hurting livestock farming and restraining the full potential of black farmers. He argues that years of consecutive drought have changed the landscape of Namibian livestock farming forever. “In this changed and weakened landscape, we need Namibian farmers to stand shoulder to shoulder and face the challenges. We need each other more than ever before, and I therefore find it strange that some white farmers still regard most black farmers as inferior. Ironically, most of these white farmers have inherited good farmland, unlike most black farmers who had to wait for affirmative action and resettlement farms,” he noted. The second land conference was first scheduled to take place in September last year, but was postponed by President Hage Geingob, following calls for postponement by civil society, political parties and the public. The conference is scheduled to take place this year, although no date has yet been set. Tjihero stressed that a conversation on land reform and agrarian reform is critical to understand the overall economics of agriculture to the GDP, and to further raise awareness on the economic and financial impact of land reform in terms of socio-economic development and empowerment. The second land conference would also take stock of the achievements made since the first national land conference in 1991 and to establish what is needed to accelerate and improve the implementation of the recommendations made then. Tjihero says the government must also come to the party. “While I urge white farmers with lots of land to make available something for potentially excellent black farmers, I also urge the government to stick to their promises of land reform and speed up the process. Another disturbing fact is the amount of farmland in the hands of foreigners. It’s absurd,” he lamented. He says the government has for too long played a reactive role regarding challenges facing livestock farming. “Our livestock industry gets caught way too many times with its pants down. It does not have to be like that; it’s time for positive, new-age thinking for the better of every inhabitant of Namibia,” he says. “Let us not forget that some 70 percent of all Namibians rely directly or indirectly on agriculture for a livelihood. Those that withhold the livestock sector from its full potential are playing with fire as they restrain the full growth potential of the sector and, indeed, also the national economy, the country,” he noted.
2018-01-23 10:21:14 8 months ago