AGRICULTURE is considered the heart of the country. While statistics show that the bulk of Namibia’s labour force is in agriculture, most of these jobs are at a primary level.
These are some of the words that agriculture minister John Mutorwa shared with delegates at the Bank of Namibia’s annual symposium held in Windhoek yesterday.
This year’s theme is ‘Feeding Namibia: Agricultural Productivity and Industrialisation.’
Mutorwa stated that the agriculture sector needs a lot of support to overcome challenges such as poor rainfall, lack of access to agricultural technology and lack of funding, among others.
He added that the fact that “Namibia imports roughly 70% of its food requirements is not a good sign at all.”
Mutorwa said when the African Union met in Maputo, Mozambique a few years ago, member countries agreed to allocate at least 10% of their national budgets to the agriculture sector.
He said Namibia’s 2017-18 budget allocated only 4,8% to agriculture, and added “if money was like sand.”
“We (Namibia) are still far from reaching that 10%,” said Mutorwa.
He mentioned some of the country’s agricultural achievements such as what he termed a “modern” abattoir that is currently being constructed at Rundu.
“The abattoir at Rundu was set to be completed by December last year but due to financial constraints it has been delayed. But that is a modern facility because it is not just for slaughtering but it will also be for meat processing,” he said.
He also said the Amta centre at Wanaheda in Windhoek will be finalised pending financial capacity.
In his opening remarks, the central bank’s governor, Ipumbu Shiimi, said it is not good to depend on others for food as they can close their borders when times are tough.
He added that if Namibia can start feeding itself, it will help improve the country’s foreign reserves as less money will be going out of the country to purchase food, stressing that the current import bill is high.
In his presentation titled Overview of Namibia’s current status on agricultural productivity and industrialisation, farmer and former deputy agriculture minister Paul Smit quoted his late father to illustrate that farming is not for the faint-hearted.
“You need to be a good business person to be successful at it,” he said.Discover More