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Opinion - Capacitating the grain

2021-04-27  Staff Reporter

Opinion - Capacitating the grain
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The lessons drawn from the economic history of many advanced countries tell us that agricultural prosperity contributed considerably to fostering economic advancement. 

Looking at Namibia`s agricultural potential, we understand there is ample opportunity in the market and facilitates meaningful growth. It is correctly observed there needs to be greater literacy in Namibia`s agricultural potential and how it can fuel our economic diversification agenda. 

For Namibia, agriculture plays an essential role in sustaining and driving the economy – but at the same time, it faces challenges due to the scantiness of rainfall, fruitful land and a struggling economy. It is the backbone of everything that drives us and can add great value to our economy. In addition to providing food and other raw materials, it can also provide employment opportunities to Namibia`s frustrated yet skilled youth. On that note, we found it compelling to highlight its importance and possible opportunities. 

Most of Namibia`s population depends largely on subsistence farming for a livelihood, which is mainly confined to communal lands with a larger portion in the northern region of our country. As for commercial farming, which contributes meaningfully to the GDP, cattle grazing is predominant in the central and northern regions, while smaller livestock is more concentrated in the southern regions of our country.

Agricultural prosperity has expressively contributed to and fostered economic advancement – and there is room for further growth, especially in agro-processing. It has also been correctly observed that agro-processing boosts agricultural GDP, outcome and agri-learning. Namibia boasts indigenous knowledge and learning systems that can make processes much more home-grown and easier. 

Agricultural advancement is necessary for improving the supply of raw materials for the agro-based industries and other sectors as well. The shortage of agricultural goods has its impact on industrial production and a consequent increase in the general price level. It will impede the growth of the country’s economy.

The notion of rural development concerning agriculture depends more on how rural families can survive off agriculture. There’s been a cumulative emphasis on several rural development projects and programs and the recognition of rural areas that need more development. This speaks to the great interconnectedness of concepts such as agriculture, rural development, community development and communal participation.  

Conventional agricultural methods are challenged in the wake of climate change and variable rainfall patterns. It is, therefore, crucial for Namibia to continue developing its agricultural sector. As the driest country in the Sub-Saharan African region, Namibia should embrace the utilisation of technological advancements in agricultural production; this comes in the form of hydroponics, horticulture and the concept of indoor and urban agriculture. 

With reference to the Omaheke region, we have assessed what home-grown products are being grown and the impact it has on growth and productivity in the region. Omaheke has always been known as the cattle country and it boasts a world-class beefmaster sector. However, farmers have challenged the norm and embarked on large-scale crop production. 

A point in case, the Aminuis farmers association is a group of men and women who extensively use indigenous knowledge to plant high-quality crops in their gardens. We have learned of plans by the Omaheke governor to facilitate a market by which they can sell their crops in high volumes and gain further. We have further observed that the constituency of Otjinene bears fertile grounds for mass tomato production and has sheer potential to disrupt the market. All these form part of the firms/organised productivity that speak to the notion of productive knowledge and economic complexity. 

Agribank has programs and initiatives that must be made use of in light of the unemployment and food insecurity challenges we are facing. One such program is the `Women and Youth Scheme`, a scheme that aims to meaningfully empower women and youth through broad-based agricultural funding. We must, as youth, position and organise ourselves to benefit from such programs.

Let us set up consortiums and agri-cooperatives and collectively apply for such opportunities. Let us understand the technical work and gain the necessary financial literacy skills to ensure we do things right. We have nothing to lose as youth and have absolutely everything to gain by getting this right. Let us equip ourselves and capacitate the grain.

Furthermore, it is important to understand the dynamic interaction between agriculture productivity and economic growth and how policies can be inter-aligned going forward. This will greatly inform our diversification and value addition agenda. The notion of `Capacitating the Grain` speaks to how we can add value to the grain. How can we enhance our skills, understanding and the order of things so that we can add meaning to the grain? 

2021-04-27  Staff Reporter

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