81% of Namibians depend on semi-arid area

19 October 2021 | Agriculture

ELLANIE SMIT

WINDHOEK

In Namibia around 81% of the population is said to be dependent on a semi-arid environment, which constitutes 50% of the total land area in the country.

This is according to the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) country representative, Farayi Zimudzi, who says this exposes the agri-food system in the country to various shocks and threats, which in turn pose a threat to food security in the country, placing the lives and livelihoods of many Namibians in jeopardy.

“This predicament draws attention towards the need to transform Namibia’s agri-food systems and make it more resilient to the effects of climate change and other shocks.”

Zimudzi was speaking at the commemoration of World Food Day in Walvis Bay on Saturday.

She said there is also an increasing need to diversify agricultural systems to enable them to adapt to climate change and disasters.

According to her it is estimated that 14% of the food produced globally is lost, and 17% of it is wasted.

“Combined with other stressors such as pests and diseases, natural disasters, loss of biodiversity, habitat destruction and conflict, one can clearly see the magnitude of the challenge we face in meeting the world’s growing food needs, while simultaneously reducing the environmental and climate impact of our agri-food systems.”

Natural disasters

Agriculture minister Anna Shiweda said the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic still presents the greatest risk to communities in general and the agriculture sector in particular, which supports the livelihoods of about 70% of the Namibian population.

She said apart from the pandemic, the sector is also prone to natural disasters, such as droughts, floods, crop pests and animal diseases as well as fire outbreaks.

“This is all due to the negative impact of climate change. Such calamities have severe negative impact on the agricultural sector as it affects grazing, rangeland and water availability, translating into a significant loss of livestock and reduced crop yields for the majority of farmers. This further leads to a devastating food insecurity situation at national and household level.”

She said according to the 2021 Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) Report on the State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World, 1.3 billion people were unable to afford healthy diets in 2019.

“In addition, in 2020, between 720 and 811 million people in the world still suffered from hunger even though the world produces enough food to feed all its inhabitants.”

Paradox

Shiweda said it is concerning to note that about 3.4 million people worldwide die every year due to overweight and obesity caused by unhealthy eating habits.

She said this is a clear indication that they need to transform food systems for food security, improved nutrition and affordable healthy diets for all.

According to her it is a well-known fact that healthy diets protect against malnutrition in all its forms, and prevent non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, stroke and cancer.

Shiweda further said that addressing hunger, malnutrition and poverty remains a high priority on the agenda of the Namibian government.

Therefore, national high-level policies as well as sector policies clearly stipulate the government’s resolve to eradicate hunger, malnutrition and poverty in Namibia.

In line with these policies, the government is implementing programmes and projects to address food and nutrition insecurity, as well as poverty.

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