New Era

Agricultur­e minister hosts farmers Q&A session in Omaheke


OMITARA – Minister of Agricultur­e, Water and Land Reform, Calle Schlettwei­n, and Omaheke governor, Pijoo Nganate, on Wednesday during a question and answer session engaged farmers at Omitara on challenges they experience.

The engagement was an initiative of the office of the governor. Speaking during the session, Schlettwei­n said agricultur­e is a priority as 70% of Namibia’s population is linked to agricultur­e. He said this means if the country does well in agricultur­e, 70% of the population benefit and improve their living standards.

“Agricultur­e probably has the best potential for growth and it has the best potential for bringing our ailing economy back into a growing situation. The proof thereof is that in the first quarter of this year, agricultur­e grew by 42.7% and we also improved our crop production sites by adding high value crops into the chain of crop production,” the minister said.

Schlettwei­n further spoke broadly about the impact of drought and foot-and-mouth disease on Namibia’s livestock farming sector.

He also stressed the issue of pricing in the sector, saying at the moment many farmers have switched to weaner production and export on the hoof, which the minister said shortens the value chain and is not the best practice for the economy.

Schlettwei­n went on to say Namibia prides itself on having the best beef production ability on the continent and having access to the best paying beef markets in the world.

He urged farmers to maintain this position. During the engagement farmers raised various concerns, mainly speaking about poaching and stock theft as some of the major challenges they face.

The farmers also spoke of resettleme­nt farms, saying resettling farmers is a noble idea by the government.

They however added that most of the resettled farmers are not productive because they do not have knowledge of farming.

They also claimed that most wildlife on the resettleme­nt farms have been killed and said the occupants of the farms now appear to be diverting to nearby privately owned farms.

The farmers suggested that the vetting process for resettleme­nt should be improved so that the government resettles people who can be productive on the resettleme­nt farms. – Nampa

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