• August 8th, 2020

PDNFU on course charting troubled waters of farming

WINDHOEK - Unlike their commercial counterparts, third to fourth generation of farmers in commercial farming who are exclusively white, who have inherited their farms, this is not the case with farmers who have bought their farms under the Affirmative Action Loan Scheme (AALS) and who are predominantly previously disadvantaged blacks.

Thus given this differing two types of acquisition of farmland, the challenges the two types of farmers are facing and have been facing are and cannot be the same. Hence the existence of the Previously Disadvantaged Namibian Farmers Union (PDNFU), now a registered entity, which has been established to take care of the eccentricities of their members as emerging commercial farmers. This is given the fact that neither can their challenges be accommodated and properly vented under existing farmers’ unions like the Namibia Agricultural Union, which they believe is appropriately for farmers who have long been in the sector, and who for that matter are either third or fourth generation farm owners who inherited most of their farms compared to farmers with AALS who are basically entrants if not novices to commercial farming and who have to grapple with loan repayments amidst adverse climatic conditions characterised by persistent droughts that Namibia have been experiencing over the last few years. 

This was the core of the message that the farmers shared with the Minister of Agriculture, Water and Forestry, Alpheus !Naruseb, who recently granted them audience. Uppermost on agenda of PDNFU that they shared with the minister and his powerful delegation was AALS and how contrary to its foundation and intent, has been further disadvantaging the previously disadvantaged farmers like them even though it was meant to help acquire farmland. Another issue they understandably raised with the minister is the removal of the guarantee which the government used to afford all Agricultural bank of Namibia AALS loan applicants and/or holders but that has been mysteriously removed on the insistence of/and or masterminding of a lobby of land baron, evidently white farmland owners, suspicious and fearful of the previously disadvantaged acquiring commercial land lest this would weaken their stranglehold on land ownership as is currently the case. 

The PDNFU also raised with the Agriculture minister the stagnation in land acquisition through AALS since 2003, when little or no land seems to have changed hands through AALS from white hands into the hands of the previously disadvantaged farmers. Meaning since AALS have stagnated in terms of ensuring a radical transformation into land reform. Hence the widespread call for the review of AALS and the consequent resolution at the Second National Land Conference last October in this regard. 
“ a) They call for the GRN to immediately reinstate the government guarantee and subsidy to the AALS farmers to continue to protect the integrity of land reform and redistribution under the scheme.  (b) For the GRN to commence reviewing the current scheme to extend the repayment period of loans for the purchase of agricultural land to a maximum of 33 years without undue delay. (c) For the GRN as a matter of urgency to commence reviewing the AALS to reduce the interest rate paid on the purchase of agricultural land to zero,” reads a petition of the union handed over to Finance Minister last March. 

Last year’s national land conference resolved particularly with regard to AALS and its product, among others on the “re-evaluation to achieve its objective that of empowerment of the formerly disadvantaged people and to increase the contribution of the agricultural sector to the GDP (Gross Domestic Product).” It is these resolution and others that the MAWF is understandably intensively active with. 

PDNFU last Thursday gave its members as well as the general farming community and public in Windhoek feedback on the meeting with the Agriculture minister describing the meeting as cordial, constructive and fruitful. 
Currently, it is busy with its strategic objectives which shall define its action plan for the year. Boasting with 57 paid up members, chairperson, Jane Kuhanga, tasking each of the current 57 members to bring another member or two which could see its membership trebling this year. Another pertinent issue that was discussed was whether it should extent its membership to farmers in communal areas.

The philosophy has been that the ultimate vision of each farmer, whether in commercial or communal area, is business. Hence the openness to also embrace communal farmers albeit cautions not to encroach on the membership of communal farmers associations. 

Kae Matundu-Tjiparuro
2019-02-12 11:04:49 | 1 years ago

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