Nau President Pleads for One Farmers’ Union

Namibian farmers must balance the political sentiments of the government against the agricultural realities on the ground as part of their strive to establish one body as the agricultural representative of the country in the international arena.

That is the plea of the Namibia Agricultural Union (NAU)’s President, Derek Wright, when he addressed a packed to-the-rafters conference hall at the Heja Game Lodge outside Windhoek last Thursday as guest speaker at the second Meat Production School of the Namibian Stock Breeders Association. Wright says that on the eve of Namibia’s independence celebrations, the country is still represented by three different farmers’ unions, each representing a sector of the whole community. “The NAu represents primarily the commercial farmers, while the Namibia National Farmers’ Union (NNFU) represents the communal farmers and the Namibia Emerging and Communal Farmers Union (NECFU) primarily looks after the interests of emerging farmers. Namibia has been asked many times by the international community to establish one body representing all these farmers, and that is something we ought to work on together for the near future,” he notes.

Wright says the immediate challenges for the livestock sector is to expand structures and members, to protect the rights of all members and to provide good service to all in the sector. “The time has come for a national organised agricultural structure that will act professional and factual and improve on already excellent relations with other role players. We must stick to our core values of honesty, transparency and integrity and value the peace, stability and security we have enjoyed in 24 years. The NAU has played a pivotal role in recent negotiations with government regarding various issues of which the reviewing of the Land Tax Valuation Role and the revised export requirements for small stock to South Africa are still fresh in our minds,” he notes.

He further notes key issues for the future as:

Certainty about land ownership, rights and usage

Optimal and sustainable use of agricultural resources

Unity and harmony between agriculture producers

Development of management skills and leadership with all producers

Support for emerging farmers programmes such as the Farmers Support Programme

The establishment of publicrivate agreements, effective communications with all role players, especially government, and training of farmers unions’ management to keep up with the dynamic and challenging times we live in.

Wright also emphasises that Namibian agriculture must be positioned to handle the challenges of the future adding that fruitful negotiations should always take first place above confrontation and court cases. “The redistribution of wealth, affirmative action, black empowerment and land reform are issues that have caused tension amongst farming communities but the NAU has always made sure the doors for negotiations remain open with government and this policy has provided results of drastic importance to the farming industry. We are privileged that we as the NAU has always been able to openly discuss issues of national interest with Government,” he states.

Wright says the agricultural sector has not been able to experience a projected growth of four per cent in the last financial year and that Namibia must become less dependent on imports as well as create more jobs in the sector.

He stresses the importance of organised agriculture in Namibia, saying the NAU is committed to achieve its goals in cooperation with government.

Source : New Era