Chamber of Agriculture on the cards

The agriculture sector is aiming to establish a Chamber of Agriculture with the aim to hold effective talks with government.

22 October 2018 | Agriculture

During several congresses held by the agricultural sector recently, it became clear that there is a policy difference between the agriculture sector and government on how growth in the sector should take place.

Therefore a national vision is urgently needed in which all role-players are included.

The sector stressed that it is vital that a national land conference should be held which must include commercial and communal farmers as well as the government during which decisions can be taken together.

Namibia Agricultural Union (NAU) president Ryno van der Merwe said that it is important that a common goal is reached together with government. “However, the political will must be there.”

He pointed out that while government's focus has shifted to the Northern communal areas, it is not to say that support will not necessarily be there. “We are busy working with stakeholders to get support from the highest levels of government. The biggest challenge, however, is political sentiments. We need political support and will.”

According to Van der Merwe, an inclusive agriculture plan is needed in which government must be included. However, he pointed out that a decision must still be taken on who will spearhead this.

One commercial famer was of the view that the union must take the reins. “People are dragging their feet in this country. This is frustrating to the capitalists. We are not used to this. We will have to spearhead this.”

Another farmer said that an inclusive agriculture plan is not a new idea. “We previously spent an entire congress discussing it and other unions did not support this.”

Van der Merwe pointed out that although an Agriculture Chamber was established in the past, it was closed down due to financial difficulties.

He said the plan should be to grow agriculture sustainably. “This must include everybody involved in the agriculture sector. This is a huge forum and we must agree on the way forward together with government.”

“The time is right for us and other producers to stand together, and they also feel the same,” a commercial farmer said. “Before we negotiate with government, we must first stand together and build the image of agriculture.”

Van der Merwe stressed that due to sensitivity regarding the involvement of the NAU, it must drive the process, but stay in the background.

“Otherwise fingers will be pointed at us, with people saying that we are only doing it for ourselves.”

Therefore a resolution was taken that an inclusive plan must be established through which all role-players and government must be involved, and that a Chamber of Agriculture must be established.

The main goal is to nurture the sector.

The NAU will support the initiative, but other role-players must drive the process to formulate policy decisions and get support from Statehouse.

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