AS Namibia continues to urbanise and grow its population, the key challenge associated with this is the chronic food insecurity problem in the country.
This is aggravated by a lack of sufficient land rights, as well as a lack in agricultural investment and policy and regulatory uncertainty, which in turns leads to rising food prices, despite the presence of land and willing producers to cultivate it.
In essence, achieving sustainable food security for both urban and rural citizens remains an important priority for President Hage Geingob’s administration.
Crucially, food security depends not only on a tricky balance between availability and affordability, but also on coordinated partnerships between the various stakeholders in the agricultural sector.
For Namibia, it is increasingly becoming important to explore newer and more innovative approaches, to successful farming. Urban agriculture is one of the techniques considered to be on the cusp of advancement within the sector, and one that can contribute towards the provision of sustainable access to nutritious food.
The practice involves the growing of farm produce near or around urban cities, in the form of gardens that provide organic produce to the local community.
According to a report published by The Sustainable Development Goals Centre for Africa this year, the continent has 65 percent of the world’s arable land, with food demand in Africa expected to rise by over 60 percent by 2050, due to population growth. Simple shifts can result in better efficiencies and environmentally-friendly produce that are less prone to climatic changes, and which ultimately has a positive influence on production yields.
Community gardens, and what is commonly known as cooperatives, can also play a key role in supplementing household budgets; and more importantly, can introduce a wider range of vitamins and minerals into the consumer diet.
Apart from this, what is clear is that while Namibia has leapfrogged within industries, such as financial payments and telecommunications, the country is yet to flex its muscles in terms of providing grains and proteins that will feed not only its citizens, but also those in other parts of the region.
If agriculture is to improve its contribution to economic development and the achievement of sustainable and secure food supply systems in the country, key stakeholders have to be much more coordinated in their partnerships – not only within government agencies, but also within the various privately-driven initiatives in the country.
Ultimately, new approaches and partnerships among the many, but disconnected stakeholders, must be encouraged and strengthened, if we are to effectively address hunger and malnourishment in Namibia, in the short and medium-term.
Confidente. Lifting the Lid. Copyright © 2015