Land Still Far Too Expensive

For the past 24 years Namibians have been staring at a pot cooking a sauce called Land Reform, hence it is now time to taste that sauce, said the outgoing president of the Namibia National Farmers Union (NNFU), Pintile Davids, at the opening of the annual NNFU congress yesterday morning.

“We see terms to acquire land are offered every day, but we farmers are unable to pay those prices. Only government can help us through resettlement in light of these exorbitant prices and therein lies the flaw of the sauce,” he said, urging government, in the presence of Minister of Agriculture, Water and Forestry, John Mutorwa, to urgently facilitate a national conference to look at agriculture delivering its full potential as the mainstay of food security in the country.

Davids stressed various factors restraining communal farmers from forming part of the bigger agricultural picture. “The UN has declared 2014 as the year of agriculture and the NNFU’s banner today reads ‘Small Scale Farmers the Key to Household Food Security’, but Namibia’s’ conventional banking systems are not small-scale communal farmer friendly, and there is a general lack of initiatives to accommodate communal farmers who take centre stage in providing household food security. We have a mass housing programme we should also have a mass land reform and agriculture programme,” he said to loud applause from a packed to the rafters conference hall.

Davids called on government to at least double the annual budget for agriculture, expressing fears that the life-giving industry will not be able to feed the nation if the spending on agriculture is not increased to 10 percent of the national budget. He also took issue with shortages of extension officers and in service delivery, as well as there not being enough veterinarians. “Agriculture is the backbone of the country and it must be run as a business or we will be doomed to fail. We are also failing as an industry when droughts strike, like last year, because we do not have a national drouight and disaster fund in place. When drought strikes, we scramble around looking for resources instead of relying on a well-established drought fund,” he said.

Source : New Era