By Hilary Mare
FINANCE Minister, Calle Schlettwein has bemoaned Namibia’s combined meat and dairy products imports which total just over N$2 billion annually; highlighting this reality undermines Namibia’s ambitions as encapsulated in the Growth at Home Strategy.
Statistics compiled by the United Nations (UN-COMTRADE) and published by the World Bank indicate that Namibia imports beef and beef products to the value of about N$500 million, animal feed to the value of about N$700 million and dairy products to the value of about N$550 million.
“These (the imports) short our value chain as we essentially re-import the processed products from our basic agricultural produce that we have exported raw or unprocessed. The selling of our weaners on the hoof outside Namibia’s borders leads to reducing our productive capacity in the overall beef sector as we do not increase the potential value that could accrue to Namibia should we ensure the development of the full beef value chain in our economy.
“Such a situation undermine our ambitions as encapsulated in the Growth at Home strategy and our overall National Industrial Policy whose main tenets are centred on value addition and not the exporting of unprocessed produce or raw materials,” said Schlettwein before adding that this is a worrisome trend.
Inaugurating AgriBank’s Gobabis Branch recently, Minister Schlettwein went on to highlight that Namibia requires a coherent and multi-dimensional set of actions to achieve the shared prosperity for an industrialized economy aspired for in Vision 2030.
“We need, for example in the agricultural sector, to zoom in as to why the prices set at farm gate are low-necessitating the need to correct the wrongs. Namibia has the capacity to feed its nation; and moreover an obligation to do so. And again, I want to cite that this requires deliberately targeted, coherent policies, positively affecting the agricultural and finance sectors.”
At Independence, Namibia produced less than 5 percent of the populations fresh produce needs. However today, 50 percent of Namibia’s fresh produce is “grown at home”. This positive development, Schlettwein says, was made possible by implementing the “Market Share Promotion or the just referred to as the MSP” policy and programme in 2005.
“Our farmers and producers must stop shying away to partake in schemes like these, where your market share is actually manifested in national legislation. Instead, we must take on the opportunities that exist locally head-on. No one will do your job for you, even if you have good plans or intentions. You as producer must take the first step in contributing to your social and economic well-being. The government and its support institutions like the AgriBank can enable you to realise your plans, and grow your business. What is possible in the fresh produce sector as demonstrated by the MSP scheme should be possible in the livestock sector,” the Finance Minister said.
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