Namibian farmers intensify engagement with stakeholders

A recent visit by Mr Benito Eliasi, SACAU’s Capacity Development Advisor, to Namibia has revealed that mutual collaboration and coordination among stakeholders in the agricultural sector brings more benefits to farmers than a more confrontational approach.  The Namibian National Farmers’ Union (NNFU) has gone through transformation over the past two years.

The union has taken a collaborative approach with government and other stakeholders whereby they invite these players collectively or individually to a round tables and discuss issues affecting farmers and providing a chance for the stakeholders to present their views to farmers and provide information to them.

Mr Eliasi attended one of these forums and was impressed with the level of debate and openness exhibited by all the stakeholders. A number of issues from the implementation of the land resettlement policy, the impact of drought to communal farmers; high input costs, inadequate livestock markets, lack of infrastructure and financing of communal livestock farmers were discussed.

Parties at this particular forum were in agreement that communal farmers are not getting adequate feedback from government on the implementation of government programs.  On the other hand, the government officials and individuals from private sector institutions were able to inform farmers on the various programs, initiatives and interventions they are implementing in the communal areas. Most leaders were not aware of these programs. Government also bemoaned the lack of support from the leadership of NNFU in the implementation of government programs. The government indicated that the extension worker to farmers ratio is very high, making it difficult for all farmers to be reached with extension support. Thus working together with NNFU could partially address this challenge.

In addition, government and other private sector players including the Agribank of Namibia committed to work with farmers in improving the marketing of their livestock through establishment of community cooperatives. These cooperatives will assist farmers in ensuring that the superiority of Namibian meat in the international market is maintained and that standards and food safety measures are adhered to by all farmers.

The NNFU CEO, Mr Musho Mwilima, informed Mr Eliasi that the attitude of other stakeholders towards NNFU has tremendously changed because of their approach and he advised other farmers’ organisations to collaborate with stakeholders including their respective governments. However, his advice was that farmers need to be aware of what they want and that they should have undisputable evidence and facts backing their views and positions. This will make other stakeholders listen and respect their views.