Focus on recovery after drought

16 October 2019 | Disasters

The recovery from the drought that the country is currently facing was the main focus point at three large conferences held last week to discuss challenges farmers are dealing with.

More than 350 people last week attended the Agricultural Outlook Conference during which 18 speakers made presentations, and gave advice on how to recover from drought.

The agriculture minister Alpheus !Naruseb was the keynote speaker and said that he is confident that producers, with the assistance of government, private sector and donors will recover after the drought.

“This can however only happen if we create a healthy primary sector capable of providing primary products to the rest of the value chain to add value,” he said.

A technical session followed where financial survival and diversification, recovery of rangeland, as well as how the marketing policy should look for recovery after the drought was discussed.

The last session was a practical session where producers from all four corners of the country gave their experiences on how to survive this difficult time.

The congress of the Livestock Producers Organisation (LPO) also took place last week and this year it mainly focused on how the marketing environment for a sustainable meat industry should look like. Mike Krafft of the Dordabis Farmers Association introduced a discussion point about the necessity of a better marketing environment in order to maximise the value of Namibia's free-range beef in international niche markets.

After various different inputs the congress decided that the production of slaughtering cattle in Namibia must be increased, rangeland improved, free-range beef must be promoted and a possible accredited system to realise a price benefit to producers which will comply with certain fixed international production standards should be investigated.

Pieter van Schalkwyk of Aroab Farmers Association was announced as the 2019 Livestock Producer of the Year while Johnny Hanekom of Hoërand Farmers Association was the runner-up.

Thinus Pretorius was elected as the new chairman of the LPO.

In its turn, the congress of the Namibia Agricultural Union (NAU) discussed a recovery plan after the drought.

According to the NAU the main points of focus were on rangeland recovery, re-building of herds and financial recovery.

Several actions will be required through coordinating cooperation between role players, including the government, financial sector, trade and producers.

The NAU says that the implementation of the national rangeland policy and strategy is primary to the recovery of national rangeland after the drought, while diversification must be implemented to speed up the recovery of re-building.

“Re-building of herds must be done within the framework of the principles of the national rangeland policy and strategy.”

Furthermore financial recovery cannot only be achieved by producers and therefore the cooperation of all role players is necessary to create support mechanisms for producers in the financial recovery after the drought.

The NAU also stressed the urgent establishment of the Chamber of Agriculture for the inclusive participation of all stakeholders in the agricultural sector for the development of joint agricultural policies and strategies, and a favourable policy environment to support producers with the recovery after the drought.