Agricultural sector growth to slow to 3.5% in 2023

October 20, 2023

Namibia’s agricultural sector, including fisheries, is likely to contract by 3.5% this year, in stark contrast to the 2.6% expansion observed in 2022, PSG Wealth says.

The firm notes that one of the significant factors poised to hinder agricultural growth is the widespread drought that has gripped Namibia.

"The livestock subsector has been plagued by sporadic outbreaks of foot-and-mouth disease and wildfires in recent years. Following a poor rainy season (November to March), most of Namibia is in the grips of drought, which has adversely affected grazing conditions as well as crop harvests," says PSG.

This comes after the government declared the drought a national disaster in June and allocated over N$572 million in drought relief.

Meanwhile, Kitty McGirr, a research associate at the Institute for Public Policy Research, has emphasised the need for additional support to realise the agricultural sector's potential as a gross domestic product multiplier.

According to McGirr, this involves enhancing technical and financial support for the sector.

She suggests that "improving technical expertise will require public finances to be supplemented by higher private sector investment and the forging of more sustainable public-private partnerships to improve infrastructure development". 

McGirr further underscores the importance of increasing the productivity of smallholder farming in the Northern Communal Areas (NCAs) by reviewing livestock management policies and facilitating access to farming inputs, irrigation and post-harvest facilities. 

Highlighting key focus areas, she said: "Such interventions would assist in modernising local production methods by expanding smallholder farmers' access to value addition and food processing technology, particularly in regions such as Zambezi, Kavango East and Kavango West, where fertile land is not being optimally utilised."

In addition to addressing these technical aspects, she says land reforms are pivotal to unlocking Namibia's agricultural potential.

"There currently exists an inverse relationship between farm size and productivity, with large-scale commercial farms producing relatively little in terms of agricultural output relative to their size," she says, adding that a significant hurdle for smallholder farmers in communal areas is the Veterinary Cordon Fence (VCF). The VCF was initially established to control the spread of animal diseases, but it has now become a market barrier, she says.

McGirr says the VCF not only restricts the sale of approximately 1.5 million cattle in NCAs to lucrative commercial export markets but also results in higher prices for meat products from the southern regions.





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Last modified on Monday, 23 October 2023 17:48

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