2nd Agricultural conference next month

WINDHOEK: The importance and contribution of commodities to the Namibian agriculture will take center stage during the second agricultural outlook conference here on 08 October 2014.

It is organised by the Namibia Agricultural Union (NAU) under the theme “The contribution of industrialisation and technology to agricultural development”.

NAU Executive Manager Sakkie Coetzee said during a media conference here on Wednesday that the Dean of Agriculture at the University of Pretoria Professor Johan Kirsten, among other speakers, will discuss the issue.

“We will hear about what we can do as a small country with a small economy competing with big companies from South Africa, especially in the dairy, poultry and pig industries. We want to protect the sector that offers so many socio-economic benefits such as job-creation to our people, but we are challenged by those big companies in court,” he noted.

Coetzee made specific reference to a High Court judgment delivered on 15 August this year, which set aside restrictions on the importation of milk products into Namibia.

The judgment was in favour of Clover Industries Limited which was not happy with the Namibian government’s restriction on the import of dairy products.

Clover, a South African multi-national foods and beverage group, supplies its products in Namibia through its wholly-owned Clover Dairy Namibia.

The import restrictions were intended to provide protection to Namibia’s dairy industry, which found itself struggling to compete against, especially, South African dairy products sold at lower prices in the Namibian market.

The first High Court ruling on the matter handed down on 16 May 2014 was not executed, and the government appealed to the Supreme Court.

This prompted Clover to find another legal alternative, asking the court to set aside the restriction on imports, pending the outcome of the appeal the Minister of Trade and Industry, Calle Schlettwein and Attorney-General, Albert Kawana lodged in the Supreme Court against the May judgment.

In his ruling, Judge Dave Smuts said the whole process was flawed, and that interested parties were not accorded their right to be heard.

Meanwhile, Schlettwein will deliver the opening address on “Growth at home: expectations of the agricultural sector to achieve the objectives of the industrialisation policy”.

Other speakers include the Minister of Agriculture, Water and Forestry John Mutorwa; First National Bank (FNB) Chief Economist Daniel Motinga who will talk about the “Global economy and prospects for agriculture in Namibia”; an agriculture experts from South Africa, Greg Miles who will discuss technology in agriculture for information and development; and Professor Tim Noakes who will discuss “What is a healthy diet, and do we produce healthy food?”.

Chief of the Livestock Information, Sector Analysis and Policy branch of the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) Dr Henning Steinfeld will speak about tackling climate change through livestock; and Professor Hannes Rautenbach, also from the University of Pretoria, who will give an overview of the weather outlook for 2014/2015 in light of climate change.

The event will be preceded by the annual NAU congress on 07 October 2014, while the annual congress of the Livestock Producers’ Organisation (LPO) will take place on 09 October 2014.