The Namibia Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry (MAWF) have urged farmers to prepare for the Agricultural Mechanisation and Seed Improvement Project (NAMSIP).
NAMSIP, through the agricultural ministry, intends to improve household food security and nutrition, job creation, household incomes and lives of rural people through increased agricultural production and productivity.
NAMSIP’s focus is on agricultural mechanisation and seed system improvement, aimed at structural transformation through increased agricultural production and value addition as game changers.
The African Development Bank (AfDB) will provide a R1 billion loan for the project, the Namibian government will contribute R362.1 million while the beneficiaries will contribute R56.8 million.
Government expects the implementation of the programme to start in this coming financial year, 1 April 2019, with full implementation expected to be in 2022.
Although government has already committed 25.5% of the funds, the agricultural ministry is, however, struggling to find the remaining funds. The R1 billion loan, which represents 70.5% of the entire project, will definitely be a timely boost. The funds were approved by the AfDB board on 4 December 2017 in Abidjan and are expected to directly benefit 294,500 crop farmers, and 10,000 livestock farmers. Of these 10,000 farmers, 2,500 are expected to be women.
“The ministry of agriculture is quite excited that our discussions with the AfDB have brought us thus far. It’s a welcome support, which will undoubtedly back our agriculture sector,” the then agriculture minister, John Mutorwa, told The Southern Times.
Speaking during a NAMSIP workshop in Zambezi region this week, permanent secretary in the ministry, Percy Msika said the contribution by beneficiaries is to ensure sustainability of the project.
A mechanism on the actual contributions and how such contribution will be collected from the beneficiaries was presented to the farmers during the workshop.
The sub-component of agricultural mechanisation will be implemented in all 14 regions to ensure that the project benefits all intended beneficiaries countrywide. The sub-component of seed system improvement will be implemented across seven crop-growing regions of the country namely Zambezi, Kavango East, Kavango West, Ohangwena, Oshikoto, Oshana and Omusati regions. “Representatives of various organisations must spread this message to all the farmers. I am emphasising this point because if we do not get sufficient numbers of applicants who meet the set requirements or criteria within a specified period, the goods and items allocated to this region will be reallocated to other regions where they will be put to use,” Msika told the workshop.
The agricultural sector remains central to the lives of the majority of the country’s 2.5 million population. The sector, directly or indirectly, supports over 70% of the country’s population. The sector has, however, in the recent years been performing below expected levels caused by the severe drought and tough economic conditions.
Agricultural production, and subsequently household income, is low in the subsistence sector due to chronic drought and consequent water shortages resulting in death of animals and crop failures, widespread soil erosion and land degradation.
These problems also led to the lack of agricultural land and isolation from markets, high cost of agricultural inputs, lack of access to credit and limited income generating opportunities.
“It is imperative that farmers are prepared and put all the necessary measures in place to enable them to participate and benefit in the project and to ensure what will be allocated to this Zambezi region remains in this region,” said Msika.
Msika added that organised agriculture gives farmers greater control over the supply chain, help them cut costs on key inputs through economies of scale and allow them to share innovations that can boost output and productivity. If farmers are organised, Msika says, it is easier to procure production inputs at more favourable and negotiated prices, it is easier to negotiate better access to markets, and even to lobby for any kind assistance.
“I, therefore, would like to urge and encourage our farmers to organise themselves into co-operatives, associations or groups in order for them to benefit from various interventions and initiatives within the agriculture sector,” he said.