AGRICULTURE executive director Percy Misika says the northern communal farmers are not selling their produce to government ministries and agencies because they are disorganised.
Misika said this during the launch of the Northern Communal Areas (NCA)’s livestock sector transformation strategy in Windhoek on Wednesday.
The strategy is aimed at improving the value chain of the livestock sector in the NCA.
This strategy will address numerous issues faced by communal farmers, such as access to markets, lack of fodder, and the improvement of depleted rangelands.
The European Union has provided over N$280 million to fund the implementation of projects under this strategy over the next four years.
One of the main projects to be implemented is the shifting of the veterinary cordon fence to include several targeted communal areas, and to allow farmers in those areas access to the market south of the red line. “Lifting the red line in certain areas will ensure that as many livestock farmers as possible, who were hitherto excluded from the normal lucrative market south of the red line, are included,” Misika stated.
The farmers to benefit from this project are those in Kavango East and West, Mangetti farmers, Ombuga, south and west of Oshikoto and Omusati, and parts of Kunene south, including Sesfontein and Fransfontein, amongst others.
The project will also build quarantine facilities and feedlots for the establishment of meat-processing plants in targeted areas.
Misika added that the project will renovate several abattoirs to ensure farmers will no longer face the challenge of not having adequate facilities and outlets for livestock and livestock products.
Asked by the media why government offices, ministries and agencies have not yet fully implemented public procurement directives issued by the finance ministry in March, he said at the time, it was difficult for the government entities to implement that directive because farmers were too “dispersed and totally disorganised”.
The Namibian reported this year that the government entities in the northern communal areas were directed to procure fresh produce, meat and other livestock products from communal farmers before considering buying those products from south of the red line, or importing them.
This includes government institutions, hospitals, schools and prisons.
The fact that there is no collection centre or a central point at which entities can buy farmers’ products also makes it economically not viable for the government entities to fully implement the Cabinet decision, Misika said.
“This year, they [farmers] had nothing to sell because they did not produce anything. Another challenge is that the condition of the livestock at the moment is very poor, which makes it difficult for anyone to buy them for people to consume. Farmers themselves are also so dispersed and totally disorganised,” he reiterated.
Misika was responding to demands by the president of the Namibian National Farmers’ Union (NNFU), Jason Emvula, that for the government to effectively implement the strategy, government offices, ministries and agencies need to fully operationalise the directive on public procurement. To solve the problem of the disorganisation of farmers in the NCA, Misika said under the just-launched strategy, the government will work with the NNFU to ensure that “we organise farmers so that they have collection centres”.
He added that under the project, stakeholders will also come up with what is called “cropping calendars that speak to and respond to the demands from these entities”.
“The calendar will let all stakeholders know who is producing tomatoes, who is producing millet, where and when, so that we bring this together in one place,” he said.
Emvula stressed that the establishment of feedlots will be a better and efficient alternative to livestock feed, other than investment in fodder production.
He thus urged the government to focus on the “low-cost” hydroponic fodder production system which can be used as on-farm and in feed-lotting for “fattening and finishing off animals for slaughter”.
The EU’s head of the development cooperation delegation to Namibia, Giancarlo Monteforte, at the event urged the stakeholders involved in the implementation of the strategy to commit and be innovative in identifying projects for implementation.