Agri sector shows growth despite challenges

Self-sufficiency is key
Despite unprecedented developments in the global economy and geopolitical environment, the agriculture sector in Namibia has experienced growth.
The agriculture sector experienced moderate growth in 2022, estimated at 3.6%, due to increased activity in both the livestock and crop sub-sectors.

This is despite unprecedented developments in the global economy and geopolitical environment, which have resulted in record high inflation, particularly for food, fertilisers, and energy, according to the agriculture ministry.

It says that there were further disruptions of supply chain channels affecting the supply of basic foodstuffs and farming inputs, thus threatening food security objectives and the country’s efforts to build back stronger amid the Covid-19 pandemic, which continue to linger.

"These developments are significant and unmask our vulnerability not only to climate change but also, more importantly, to external event shocks," says the ministry.

Become self-sufficient

It says that these adverse developments warrant a policy shift from over-reliance on trade as an anchor for food security to food self-sufficiency anchored on intensive agriculture, modernisation, and improving domestic productive capacity across the value chains.

The ministry says that it is this new policy emphasis that should now define collective interventions in the agriculture, water and land sectors to realise progress towards national food self-sufficiency in basic staple foods.

It should also realise a high dimension of inclusivity and quality in the sector, facilitate the creation of jobs and self-employment opportunities through investment realisations in the sector, and unlock water generation and distribution through the acceleration of the Water Sector Support Programme's implementation.

Challenges faced

Meanwhile, the ministry said that theft and vandalism of water installations remain huge challenges.

"Unfortunately, the impact of our rural water development programme for severely under-serviced communities has been completely diminished in some cases."

Boreholes, solar panels, pumps, cables, and switchboards for twenty installations have been destroyed lately, leaving affected communities without a secure supply of water again.

The ministry said stock theft and poaching are other criminal activities that cripple many farmers, adding that it would appear that in many cases civil servants are involved in this.

On another topic of concern, the ministry said the environmentally sustainable utilisation of water resources, especially groundwater resources, must be guaranteed.

"Of late, we have to be worried about threats of severe pollution of existential magnitude for many farmers and communities depending on the groundwater that may be polluted by unsustainable mining and exploration activities."

Flagship activities for 2023/2024

- Hosting of the Agronomic Stakeholders from 1 to 3 February to achieve greater coordination, partnership and integration.

- Providing efficient services to the public through visible extension and veterinary services and access to information. In this regard, key enablers such as transport, information technology, procurement and a functioning performance management system cascaded to all levels.

- Finalisation and tabling of the Land Bill which is now at advanced legal drafting stage.

- Tabling of the Livestock and Livestock Products Bill

- Finalisation of the First National Agricultural Investment Plan and its implementation in the 2023/2024 financial year.

- Finalisation of the National Disaster Risk Management Strategy for the Agriculture Sector and the Review of the 1997 National Drought Policy

- Finalisation of the regulations for the implementation of the Seed and Seed Variety Act of 2018

- Finalisation of the Plant Breeders and Farmers Right, which will protect and acknowledge the plant breeders who will produce new plant varieties while promoting access to international varieties.

- Finalisation of the Property Valuer Profession Regulations and the Code of Conduct for the Council following the enactment of Property Valuer Profession Amendment Act of 2022, and drafting of the Valuation Bill and commencement of the issuance of Land Tax Assessment for 2021/2022, 2022/2023 keeping in mind that 2019/2020 was exempted due to Covid-19.