Maximizing the full potential of Agriculture

Over the past six years, the agriculture sector’s contribution to gross domestic product (GDP) has been approximately 7.6% on average.

17 September 2021 | Economics

HANKS SAISAI

Vision 2030 is fast approaching and with approximately nine years left before the country reaches this significant milestone, it becomes every citizen ’s responsibility to take responsible actions towards attaining this vision. Agriculture is an overlooked industry in Namibia, despite its immense contribution to the economy’s gross domestic product (GDP) and its impact on livelihoods. Moreover, many Namibians directly or indirectly depend on this sector and it has proven to be the largest employer of the country’s workforce. Namibia’s agriculture sector has proven to be a leading producer of high-quality beef, grapes and blueberries that have provided access to foreign markets offering lucrative incomes.

Over the past six years, the sector’s contribution to GDP has been approximately 7.6% on average and this could be as a result of many factors. One of the fundamental factors is the investments made in the sector, which show a declining trend. Hence, improving the agriculture sector’s contribution towards GDP will require the prioritization of investments in the sector through collective and collaborative efforts.

Of late, there have been notable private investments in the sector that have resulted in profitable enterprises such as the Roots Agricultural Village in Stampriet and the establishment of the Mashare Blueberry Irrigation Scheme. Part of the success factors in these agribusinesses could be key financial, technical and market investments.

The Government through the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Land reform and respective agencies have made significant investments in the sector. However, involving the private sector to invest in agricultural businesses would unlock the real potential of agriculture in Namibia.

Value addition

Some key subsectors that could be explored and accorded key investments include value addition through the processing of agricultural commodities and the introduction of branding, labelling and packaging of high-quality commodities that could be exported to earn the nation foreign currency. Additionally, significant investments that bring services closer to farmers and the securing of markets would significantly accelerate the quantity of commodities produced in the country. This should be supported by organized logistical channels to transport produce from point of production to the rightful markets of consumption on time. On the end of the producers, subsidies, incentives and regular capacity building interventions to build their knowledge base will enable them to be reliable producers that meet market demand patterns regularly. Agribank, through its Agri Advisory Services Division, is actively complementing government by conducting farming lectures and practical sessions to educate farmers on various components of farming, as well as advising on possible solutions to farming challenges.

In the final analysis, collective and collaborative investments will enable agribusinesses to increase productivity and contribute to GDP. Moreover, monetary investments made by a single ministry, agency or private company can be complemented by other role players that invest in capacity building, logistics, value addition and securing markets to ensure that producers are motivated to effectively and efficiently produce agricultural commodities that can result in the generation of foreign income from overseas markets.

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