SUBSISTENCE farming, which is the most common form of farming in Namibia, has the potential to improve food security in rural and urban areas by increasing food supply and reducing food prices.
This was shared by the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah, at the 16th Theo Ben Gurirab lecture series that recently took place in the capital of the Kavango West region, Nkurenkuru.
Nandi-Ndaitwah stated that subsistence farmers can assist with food supply and food security in the country if they produce enough food for their own consumption and still have a surplus for selling to supplement their incomes.
According to her, this can be achieved through the use of improved fertilizers, modern equipment and market identification.
She further stated that a well-developed agricultural sector can be relied on during challenging times. This, she said, was proven by the fact that the agriculture sector’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) contribution increased to 6,7% over the past two years, from 4,2% in 2019 – despite the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
In addition, she explained that the Russian-Ukraine war has also highlighted the importance of self-reliance when it comes to food production, as the war has impacted the prices of basic commodities, such as food.
Further emphasising the sector’s importance towards economic independence, Nandi-Ndaitwah stated that it is also critical for industrialisation as “most, if not all, developed countries became industrialized through agriculture that has started as subsistence farming”.
She said that if the agriculture sector is well developed, it can produce raw materials for industries and allow for the employment of a large segment of the country’s labour force through its value addition. The sector also has to be central to economic diplomacy, according to her.
“The entire Ministry of International Relations and Cooperation officers at home and abroad, as well as the political leadership, have taken this very seriously by advocating for economic diplomacy at all levels of our engagements. This explains why many of our development partners are positively responding to our needs of agricultural development,” she added.
Nandi-Ndaitwah explained that a well-developed agricultural sector will require a multi-faceted approach involving the government (at regional and central levels), the private sector and the farmers.
Furthermore, she stated that public-private partnerships (PPPs) should also be seriously considered, not just with regard to foreign investors, but also local investments.
“It has to be clear that when we talk of PPP, the attention is not on the foreign investors, but while we encourage foreign investment, Namibians must take a centre stage. As a Namibian you invest and reinvest in Namibia,” she added.