WINDHOEK - Small scale producers must make use of the government’s support programmes to increase their cereal and horticulture production to ensure national and household food security, encourages Agriculture, Water and Forestry Deputy Minister, Anna Shiweda.
The Deputy Minister joined farmers in the regions of Kavango East and West in celebrating the good harvest celebrated during the annual Mahangu Harvest Festival on August 5 in Rundu. She is happy small-scale communal farmers contributes significantly to the harvest, especially from the Kavango East, one of the few bread baskets of the country. The participation of small-scale farmers is a clear indication that government policies and strategies that are being implemented to support crop producers in the communal areas are yielding the intended results, says the Shiweda who officiated for the Minister Alpheus !Naruseb.
Namibia being a food deficit country, particularly in terms of cereal and horticultural products, is expected to import about 42.9 percent of its total cereal requirement. This means that small scale cereals and horticulture producers have a big role to play to close the current wide food import gap in Namibia. “This may sound impossible, but the role of small scale farmers and their contribution to world food production and food security is well documented. In this regard, a UNEP/IFAD study estimates that approximately 70 percent of the world’s food is produced by small scale or family farmers,” says the deputy minister. “This means that the support towards the improvement and enhancement of the production capacity of these categories of farmers is imperative to increasing food production and securing national and household food security in the world.” In addition, support to small scale farmers she said will also increase the capacity of individual countries, including Namibia to contribute to the attainment of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) No. 2 on “Zero Hunger”.
Thus, the government shall continue to pursue and implement policies and programmes that will increase the production capacity of small scale farmers engaged in crop production under both rain-fed and irrigation conditions countrywide. Specific interventions designed to enhance the production capacity of smallholder farmers under the Green Scheme Programme, Dry-land Crop Production Programme (DCPP) and the newly formulated programme called Harambee Comprehensively Coordinated and Integrated Agricultural Development Programme (HACCIADEP) will be intensified, well-resourced and implemented in the crop producing regions. Agricultural mechanisation, and the establishment of seed and fertiliser production and distribution systems are some of the schemes to be implemented under HACCIADEP to increase food production. The objective of these schemes, clarifies the Deputy Minister, is to boost agricultural output through modern technology, thus making Namibia secured in maize and mahangu crops. Enormous opportunities for cooperatives will also be created by providing mechanised ploughing and weeding services, among others.
Shiweda informs that the government has secured funding for two components of the HACCIADEP Programme, namely the agricultural mechanisation and Seed Development and Distribution Programme. Thus the MAWF is currently working out the selection criteria and is drafting the implementation modalities for these two programmes. The regions, including Kavango East, will be consulted once the first draft document containing the selection criteria and implementation modalities is ready.
She also urges Small and Medium Enterprises in the region and other regions to engage in milling business ventures to create a market for the cereal producers, add value to agricultural products and contribute to job creation.
Given the challenge of climatic change, it is important and necessary that production is sustainable through the implementation of climate smart agriculture practices to ensure adaptation to, and the mitigation of the impact of climate change. This has prompted government to sign the Paris Agreement on Climate Change without delay.