EAN hosts virtual agri conference

21 October 2020 | Agriculture

The Economic Association of Namibia’s large-scale conference under the theme of “Maximising Agricultural Potential for Namibia’s Development” is taking place this morning.
The minister of agriculture, water and land reform, Calle Schlettwein, will open the event, which will be streamed live on the Facebook page of the Economic Association of Namibia (EAN).
The conference aims to create a platform for the exchange of ideas on how to maximise the potential of the agricultural sector, and how to transform it into a hub for decent employment creation, economic growth, and exports earnings.
It brings together policymakers, scholars, donor agencies, financiers, civil society actors, and the general public to devise strategies and practical solutions aimed at tackling the current challenges faced by the sector through, among other things, the deployment of technology and modern agricultural methods, in the context of smart agriculture, as part of the overall plans for greening Namibia.
More specifically, the conference will cover the following topics:
The role of modern agriculture in economic development;
Smart agriculture modules: The potential of greening Namibia;
The role of land reform in maximising agricultural output;
Maximising the potential of the beef industry, game farming and horticulture;
Innovation in financing agriculture
Water woes: Climate resilient solutions;
Emerging agribusinesses: Moringa, olive oil production, etc., and
Developing the aquaculture, aquaponics and hydroponics sub-sectors.
CRUCIAL PLAYER
Agriculture plays a critical role in economic development.
The sector serves as an important impetus for economic growth and has played a central role in the economic transformation and prosperity of most advanced countries.
Moreover, development literature points out that growth in agriculture disproportionately benefits the impoverished sections of the population and hence contributes significantly to the reduction of poverty and inequality, EAN says.
In Namibia, while the sector’s contribution to GDP has been decreasing over time (from 6.2% in 2005 to 3.9% in 2019), it is one of the biggest employers, contributing to approximately 167 242 jobs or 23% of the total employment in the country in 2018.
Furthermore, agricultural exports contribute significantly to exports earnings. In 2019, food and live animal exports contributed N$3.4 billion to foreign earnings, of which N$1.9 billion came from meat exports.
In addition to the above, agriculture is the lifeblood of rural Namibia, home to 50.1% of the total population. Also, 70% of all Namibians are dependent on farming for at least part of their food supplies.
Furthermore, rural Namibia serves as a social safety net for those who lose employment in urban centres or simply don’t make it in cities. Moreover, anecdotal evidence shows that farming areas serve as places of retirement for a substantial number of Namibia’s people.
The importance of agriculture to Namibia’s economy and society can therefore not be overemphasised, EAN says.
CHALLENGES
Notwithstanding the above, the agricultural sector in Namibia is beset with tremendous challenges, owing mainly to the arid and semi-arid climate and reoccurring droughts in the country.
Droughts cause enormous losses to livestock and crops every few years, resulting in immense financial losses to commercial farmers and loss of livelihoods to substance farmers. Moreover, the sector is characterised by low skills, low pay, and low levels of mechanisation, resulting in low levels of productivity and output.
This year, EAN partnered up the Hanns Seidel Foundation, Agribank, Namwater, GiZ and Namibia Media Holdings (NMH) to draw together a diverse number of experts to share their views on the above topics.
Key recommendations from the conference will be compiled in the form of a report and shared with policymakers, financiers, donor community and the public at large.

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