Namibian farmers focus on food security

The Namibia Agricultural Union (NAU) held its 62nd annual congress this week in Windhoek.
Issue date : 24 October 2008

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The Namibia Agricultural Union (NAU) held its 62nd annual congress this week in Windhoek. The theme of the congress was “The role and the value of the farmer for food security”. One of the central themes was how farmers can be accommodated to take advantage of current global food shortages and high prices. Discussion topics included certainty about ownership of land, as well as optimal marketing schemes and productive land use.

Proposals were made regarding financial support such as decreasing the rate at which land tax is levied, and accessing affordable finance for bush encroachment. L ast week Namibia’s Ministry of Agriculture reaffirmed government’s commitment to move the Veterinary Cordon Fence (VCF) to the Angolan border. It said the proposal had been submitted to cabinet. Translocation of the controversial “red line” theoretically opens up the Northern Communal Areas (NCAs) for export to the EU and other high-yield markets. But critics maintain the NCA still has a long way to go when it comes to health standards and commercial marketing techniques.

In the same week the Livestock Producers’ Organisation (LPO) met in the Namibian capital for their annual congress. The LPO looked at alternative methods of branding before slaughtering in terms of the Brands Act and spoke about an area management plan for solutions to elephant problems in the north west Kunene region of Namibia.

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The congress also spoke about banning the use of hormones as growth stimulants. Livestock producers talked about the future of Meatco, the country’s largest meat processor. Many farmers are reportedly weary of the consultative meetings surrounding a new ownership structure, arguing BEE companies conducting the transformation process have little or no knowledge of farming. – Servaas van den Bosch