Producers plead for Harambee

The Harambee Rain-fed Surplus Grain Production Programme may become critical for agronomists to continue planting next season.

12 February 2019 | Agriculture

The current drought situation in the country was high on the agenda of the Agronomic Producers' Association (APA) when its management met last week in Windhoek.

The APA, which is affiliated to the Namibia Agricultural Union (NAU), met last Tuesday.

According to the NAU weekly newsletter, representatives from the Namibian Agronomic Board (NAB) were urged to implement the Harambee Rain-fed Surplus Grain Production Programme.

“For those producers who will once again be confronted with a crop failure, there is great concern about their financial ability to incur input costs in the next season,” said the NAU.

The programme involves a coupon system that is covered by government for producers to purchase seed and fertiliser under certain circumstances. The APA management believes the programme will ensure food security for Namibia, said the NAU.

The association also identified possible projects, such as alternative crops, cover crops, irrigation as well as information days that are important to the industry, and which fall within the strategic plan of the agriculture ministry.

“The new legislation on seed, which has caused a major headache for seed importers and halted planting, was also discussed and NAB representatives indicated that they were in urgent discussions with the agriculture ministry to obtain a grace period first,” according to the NAU.

Meanwhile, the management of the Dairy Producers' Association (DPA) met last Thursday, during which the dairy production cost index was submitted.

“The index has clearly indicated that the total cost of dairy producers has risen by more than 55% over the past year compared to their income, which has fallen due to producer price cuts of 30c/l of milk,” said the NAU.

According to the NAU, the biggest contributing factor to this is feed, and Feedmaster has announced that prices will rise again by the end of the month.

“Although dairy producers have already applied all possible cost-savings in their businesses, the costs are simply too high and there is no longer any profitability,” the NAU said.

The DPA has therefore made a serious request to the processor (Namib Dairies) for the re-establishment of price reduction, which producers had to take over during the past year.

“However, the recovery of the above-mentioned producer price is still not enough to close the gap in the cost squeeze, and as a result, there must be urgent discussions on additional price increases.”

It was also stressed that the implementation of Import and Export Control Act, as it relates to milk and related products in support of the local dairy industry, has still not taken place and is a major frustration for the dairy industry.

“It is critically important that this legislation should come into effect as soon as possible,” said the NAU.

Meanwhile, the DPA has called for retailers to support locally produced products. In other news, agriculture minister, Alpheus !Naruseb last week met with the NAU and the Namibia Emerging Commercial Farmers Union (NECFU) to discuss the drought situation in the country.

The two unions also discussed their joint drought action plan with the !Naruseb and mentioned that it is of the utmost importance that the export of livestock must not be restricted in order to enable producers to market their animals as soon as possible.

Price stability in the local market for slaughtering animals is critical for the next three months to enable producers to make decisions about the slaughtering of animals. Support measures by financial institutions are also requested to ease producer cash flow management, said the NAU.

The agriculture ministry will discusses the proposed drought action plan, after which a cabinet submission will be made.

ELLANIE SMIT

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