Urban agriculture to the rescue

The majority of smallholder farmers in urban and rural areas do not have access to formal agricultural markets.

12 May 2021 | Agriculture

ELLANIE SMIT

WINDHOEK

Agriculture minister Calle Schlettwein says more needs to be done to develop informal agricultural markets in Namibia to create more job opportunities.

Schlettwein said in Namibia, more than 57% of the employed population is found in the informal sector, adding that the high percentages are an indication of the urgency required for the development of the informal sector to secure jobs.

He made these remarks in a speech read on his behalf by deputy agriculture minister Anna Shiweda at the launch of an urban agriculture project that is aimed at strengthening Namibia’s food systems to recover from emergencies and disease-related shocks through the Build-Back Better (BBB) programme.

The BBP programme is funded by the government of Japan.

The project envisages to achieve these aims through multi-faceted interventions that are focused on the prevention of the further spread of the coronavirus through the provision of hand-washing facilities for informal food markets.

SMEs in agriculture

Schlettwein said there is a dedicated budget for the promotion, support and financing of the development of SMEs in Namibia, including SMEs in agriculture.

He added that the majority of smallholder farmers in urban and rural areas do not have access to formal agricultural markets and therefore depend on informal markets to market and sell their produce.

“However, these markets are often characterised by poor marketing infrastructure, resulting in high post-harvest losses (PHLs), which in turn, culminates in the loss of revenue and real income to farmers and vendors.”

He said if Sub-Saharan countries, including Namibia, are to honour their obligations towards the achievement of ending poverty and zero hunger, as well as to deliver on reduction of PHLs, they need to address these inefficiencies by directing targeted and dedicated investment towards the development of marketing systems of the agricultural informal sectors of their countries.

Japanese ambassador Harada Hideaki said the pandemic is still adversely affecting society as a whole and is having a serious impact on food security and the livelihoods of vulnerable groups such as small-scale farmers and informal vendors.

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