Agriculture investment declining

Bureaucratic red tape is the main obstacle to investment in Namibia, says agriculture minister Calle Schlettwein.

27 October 2020 | Agriculture

ELLANIE SMIT

WINDHOEK



Public investment in the agriculture sector has been on a declining trajectory from an average of 4.6% of the national budget 10 years ago to 3.6% currently.

This low public sector investment in agriculture highlights the large scope for public-private partnerships through integrated and coordinated investment, according to agriculture minister Calle Schlettwein.

Speaking at the Economic Association of Namibia (EAN) conference last Wednesday, which took place under the theme 'Maximising Agricultural Potential for Namibia's Development', he said the way agriculture and agro-processing value chains are developed and interlinked into domestic and export markets will determine the appetite for private sector investment. “Our job is to enhance the appetite,” the minister said.



Red tape and bureaucracy

According to Schlettwein, impediments for doing business - red tape and bureaucracy – is an area where Namibia has consistently rated below global averages.

“It is one of the softer matters that can and should be addressed swiftly. We have started with relaxing visa requirements, especially for business people. We are checking all regulatory requirements as to whether they actually add value. If not, they will be abolished.”

He said the agricultural sector is governed by several pieces of legislation, some of which are regulatory in nature, while others contain protective measures. “Our task is to scrutinise the regulatory and administrative framework with the intent to clean it from unnecessary bureaucratic provisions that add no value.”



Largest employer

He added that the agricultural sector is the largest employer, with agriculture, forestry and fishing accounting for about 167 242 employees or 15.3% of the total workforce in Namibia, according to 2018 statistics.

Agriculture supports the livelihoods of about 70% of the Namibian population.

“It remains our conviction that agriculture offers the best opportunities to revitalise our economy, create productive and decent jobs, develop skills, transfer and adapt technology, bring about less inequality, better living standards for all and ensure food self-sufficiency at national and household levels.”

Schlettwein added that there is, however, a need to urgently transform and mordernise agriculture into a vertically and horizontally integrated sector to serve as the strong bedrock of economic recovery efforts.

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