THE Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Land Reform in conjunction with the World Food Programme (WFP) has to date implemented 34 food system projects, which are especially focused on female headed households to bring about food security at a household as well as national level.
This was revealed by the Dr. George Fedha, WFP Country Director who was speaking at the Women in Agriculture Summit that was held in the capital today. Dr. Fedha shared that smallholder farmers are viewed as rural economic transformers, adding that with 70% of the population depending on the agricultural sector in Namibia, it is a crucial sector.
He added that with 60 to 70% of Food imported into Namibia, and the WFP is working with the Namibian government to redress this high importing. He shared that to date, a total of 34 food programmes have been initiated throughout the country which entails kickstarting crop production via a multitude of organisations such as Traditional Authorities, Schools, Hospitals, and Namibia Correctional Services etc.
Also speaking at the event, Ndiyakupi Nghituwamata the Executive Director of the Agriculture ministry stated the challenge of food insecurity particularly in the rural areas especially given the country’s increasing rural-urban migration has a negative impact on agricultural production. The rate of urbanisation stands at 4.2% and it is expected that 60% of the population will live in the urban area by the year 2030.
“The outcome of this proceedings seeks to reverse urbanization and see how the youth and woman can stay in rural areas to increase food production,”. Nghituwamata said.
The agricultural sector contributes about 5% of the national GDP, however this figure fell to around 3.1% in 2019 due to drought. Nghituwamata further shared that the disruption of food supply chains and restricted movements of goods and services and people ignited by Covid-19 pandemic has brought into focus the over-reliance on other countries for essential food.
“We need to rethink the country’s approach to economic growth and socio-economic development. At the Ministry, our focus is no longer food security alone, but food security and food self-reliance. In addition, the agricultural sector and particularly the farmers in the communal area face the challenge of market access, lack of agricultural mechanization and value addition to agricultural produce. The topic of women in agriculture therefore cuts across the core of our socio-economic development drive and seeks to answer the questions of how we could best ensure national food security, and create the much-needed jobs through the agro-allied industries,” Nghituwamata said.