Higher allocations needed for agri, land reform

03 May 2021 | Agriculture

ELLANIE SMIT



WINDHOEK

For the agricultural sector to play its role in ensuring food security and reigniting economic growth, budgetary allocations need to be improved.

This according to agriculture and land reform minister Calle Schlettwein when he was motivating his N$1.255 billion budget for the 2021/2022 financial year in the National Assembly.

About 31% of the budget allocated to agriculture and land reform will go towards development projects, while the rest will be used for the ministry’s operations.

Schlettwein said agriculture remains a strategic sector as it supports the livelihoods of 70% of the population and employs 167 242 individuals, or 15.3% of the Namibian workforce. This is according to the 2018 Namibia Labour Force survey.

Private investment

Schlettwein said public and private investment in the agriculture sector has been declining over the past 10 years.

“The decline in financial appropriations continues in the 2021/2022 financial year, posing significant challenges to the ministry’s ability to bring the agricultural sector to its full potential.”

He said while land remains crucial as a means of production, there is a need to address equity in terms of land ownership by accelerating land reform programmes which are currently being impinged upon by lack of funding.

Schlettwein said he was aware of the very tight economic situation the country finds itself in.

He added that for the sector to reach its full potential, the limited public investment needs to be augmented by private-sector investment.

Allocations

He said N$96.2 million will be allocated to the livestock production programme, which is aimed at improving animal health countrywide, including the northern communal areas.

Furthermore, more than N$143 million will be allocated for crop and horticulture production, which is inclusive of N$53 million to the Namibia Agricultural Mechanisation and Seed Improvement Project (NAMSIP).

N$19 million will be allocated to agricultural infrastructure development.

Under land reform, N$119.7 million will be allocated for land acquisition for resettlement purposes and the rehabilitation of farm infrastructure on resettlement farms.

It will also include the development of land in communal areas through programmes to integrate communities into the mainstream economy and the provision of secure tenure in informal settlements through the implementation of flexible land tenure systems.

“The agricultural sector is recovering from the most severe drought in recent times, we have had a Foot-and-Mouth Disease (FMD) outbreak and we still battle a locust infestation.”

For the sector to reach its full potential, it needs additional resources and investments, better service provision to farmers, and better markets for its produce, he said.

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