Loss of animal health status studied

Uranium mining in the Stampriet Basin Aquifer was the most urgent and most threatening matter discussed at recent NAU-LPO meetings.

21 October 2021 | Agriculture

ELLANIE SMIT







WINDHOEK

Maintaining the current animal health status south of the Veterinary Cordon Fence (VCF) is of critical importance to protect regional and international export markets.

This is one of the priority issues recently under discussion during regional meetings of the Namibia Agriculture Union (NAU) and the Livestock Producers Organisation (LPO), which were recently concluded successfully.

The meetings were held in Otjiwarongo, Keetmanshoop and Windhoek and specific concerns were raised for discussion.

The LPO, together with other business partners, is currently conducting an investigation to determine the impact on the country's economy, should Namibia lose its animal health status for whatever reason.

At the same time, there is a need to determine and analyse the benefits should the animal health status of areas north of the VCF improve, the union said.

“Producers appear optimistic that if political agendas of certain political opportunists be set aside, we can concentrate on generating income for the country, provide employment opportunities and grow the economy,” the NAU said.

The study is ongoing and results will be shared over the next weeks.

Prospecting and mining

Another important issue discussed was the prospecting and mining of natural resources that may have dangerous impacts on the environment.

According to the NAU, this ‘hot topic’ includes many challenges that are experienced due to a multitude of potential prospectors, all following different procedures and agendas.

The union said the most urgent and apparently most threatening matter involves uranium mining in the Stampriet Basin Aquifer and a good amount of time and effort is going into this project to obtain information and to inform landowners of their rights.

“The NAU has contracted the part-time services of an experienced environmental consultant and also closely collaborates with a geologist. We furthermore are trying to build a database of exclusive prospecting licences around the country to alert members of potential mining activities in their respective areas.”

Land Bill

The NAU further said discussions around the Land Bill shared details on proposed new terminology, which could be viewed as unconstitutional.

“The NAU took a proactive approach to shed light on possible contradictions to the Namibian Constitution and we await further feedback on the proposed bill.”

The union added that land tax payments were queried and there is still a vacuum as they await final decisions from government on a way forward. “The past four years still need to be invoiced and settled and we are steadily approaching the fifth year in limbo on this matter.”

The union added that realising importance and value of the sheep value chain, which has been under pressure for

an extended time, the LPO proactively commissioned a study to determine the viability of mutton exports to international markets. Preliminary results appear promising, and all information will be shared once the study has been completed.

It said cattle producers held discussions and came to an agreement on possible solutions to ensure the sustainability and progress of the industry in Namibia.

“With the current situation in the industry, it has become clear that a complete rethink is needed. The producers have formulated certain core principles on which a sustainable solution can be built.”

Further discussions will take place with the industry and other role players to determine a way forward.

Minimum wage

Furthermore, feedback was provided on the minimum wage for farm workers and, according to the NAU, negotiations to adjust the wage are at an advanced stage. The new agreement will soon be signed. The parties involved are the Agricultural Employers Association (AEA), Namibia Emerging Commercial Farmers' Union, Namibia National Farmers Union and Namibia Farm Workers Union.

The union said once the agreement is signed, the new minimum wage will be announced.

It further said that the Wages Commission was appointed this year to develop a national minimum wage for Namibia.

It concluded its nationwide consultations in Windhoek with the AEA, which also provided extensive input.

According to the union, the AEA requested that agriculture employers be exempted from a future national minimum wage as there is already a unique minimum wage for farm workers in the country.

Covid impact

Meanwhile, a survey was conducted amongst AEA members during August to determine the impact of Covid-19 on farm workers.

According to the NAU, some 300 farmers representing 2 450 workers participated. The infection rate among farm workers who participated was 5% and no deaths were reported.

It was further noted that the majority of these workers were treated at home on the farms and all recovered with no side effects.

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