Vibrant agriculture key to food security – Schlettwein

May 16, 2023

Namibia should prioritise the horticulture, poultry, and dairy sectors to mitigate unemployment and food security challenges in the country, Minister of Agriculture, Water, and Land Reform Calle Schlettwein has said.

The Minister emphasised the need to intensify support for value chains that have high employment intensity and the potential to contribute significantly to food security and self-sufficiency.

Schlettwein also stressed the importance of effective management of the Green Schemes, "which are critical for food security and food self-sufficiency."

He urged for the timely injection of private capital to wean off these schemes from the government budget.

"The government has recently re-advertised the three brownfield schemes of Katima Liselo, Tandjeskoppe, and Zone Irrigation Projects to attract investor interest and stimulate private sector participation," Schlettwein said.

To leverage smart technologies and realise the stepwise expansion of areas under irrigation and private off-takes, an Irrigation Master Plan is necessary, according to the Minister.

He said agricultural intensification is the country’s best hope for food security and food self-sufficiency. 

The Minister also emphasised the need to scale up the provision of agriculture extension services and improve the coverage and targeting of the Dry Land Crop Production Programme, which will be supported by increased provision of agricultural equipment from the NAMSIP Programme.

"The government is currently finalising the mode of operation and management of this equipment and the establishment of the mechanisation centres for a cluster of regions for future sustainability of the programme," said Schlettwein.

In addition to these efforts, the government aims to support agricultural research and development to promote productivity and innovation in the sector, as well as increased production and distribution of seeds to crop producers across the country.

"This will help to expand market access and develop new markets through defined strategic bilateral and multilateral cooperation, as a basis for catalysing improved domestic productive capacity and export-led growth.

The Minister's call for the prioritisation of horticulture, poultry, and dairy reflects the government's commitment to mitigating unemployment and food insecurity in Namibia. 

"By promoting these value chains and developing key infrastructure, the government aims to strengthen the country's food systems and enhance its resilience to future shocks."

This comes when the Food Security Information Network (FSIN) has said at least 37% of the population in Namibia has access to enough food, while 33% are worried about their next meal, 25% are experiencing a food crisis, and 5% are in an emergency situation.

According to the Global Report on Food Crises 2023 published by FSIN in support of the Global Network against Food Crises, a collaborative effort among 16 partners to achieve a joint consensus-based assessment of acute food insecurity in GRFC countries.

The report states that "11 of the 13 countries in Central and Southern Africa were classified as major food crises with Eswatini and Namibia having over 20% of the national population in IPC Phase 3 or above (stressed or facing food crisis)".

The report however reveals that levels of acute food insecurity are also expected to decline significantly in Namibia, "with the projected number of people in IPC Phase 3 or above decreasing by 48% to 390,000 in January–March 2023."

FSIN highlights that economic shocks were the main driver of acute food insecurity in Eswatini, Lesotho, Namibia and Zimbabwe.

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Last modified on Wednesday, 17 May 2023 15:36

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