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Recommendations for The SADC Land and Agrarian Reform Initiative. The case of Namibia
Author: Willem Odendaal
Willem Odendaal works in the Legal Assistance Centre on the Land, Environment and Development Project.
4.1. Food Security
Namibia’s low and unreliable rainfall pattern limits its potential as a commercial, self-sufficient and reliable agricultural crop producer. Extended periods of drought impact heavily on Namibia's agricultural sector and the tenuous food security of the rural poor.
Also, during the 1990s livestock losses were heavy due to drought. The world-wide overproduction of cattle and the increased degradation of grazing lands threatens Namibia’s commercial farming sector. In addition, it is estimated that as many as 60 to 80% of Namibia’s commercial farms are not profitable.78
Commercial farmers were heavily subsidised during South African rule and it appears that Namibia’s farmers are now feeling the effects of the gradual withdrawal of those subsidies. In recent years, commercial livestock farmers have moved increasingly towards mixed game/livestock farming and many have embarked upon wildlife-based tourism enterprises.
This trend in stock diversification has helped to maintain biodiversity and creates a valuable buffer against the effects of drought. In addition, the demand for horticulture exceeds the local production in Namibia by far. It is estimated that local Namibian producers supply only 18% according to value of the demand while 82% is imported.79
Agricultural incomes for the estimated 150 000 households living on communal land are very low, mainly because they are excluded from benefits such as improved farming techniques, technology, access to formal credit facilities and regulated markets.
Communal farmers are mostly dependent on rain-fed crops (mainly millet) and livestock and receive little income at all from their work: almost all of their production is consumed by their own households. Thus, the logic and potential of the land reform process should not only be analysed against the legacy of colonialism and apartheid, but also against the reality of the agricultural potential and the environmental realities of Namibia.
78 Werner reports that about 30% of all farmers are essentially debt free, but that the average farmer had a debt of N$227,000 and would have to sell off 64% of his livestock herd to repay that debt. If one removes the 30% who are debt free from that average, the average farmer is in debt over $300,000 or roughly the total value of her/his livestock. Wolfgang Werner, “Agriculture and Land, in Henning Melber, Namibia: A Decade of Independence, 1990-2000, Namibian Economic Policy Research Unit, Publication No. 7, 2000, at 33.
79 National Horticulture Development Initiative: Feasibility Study into the Development of Infrastructure for the Marketing of Horticultural Produce in Namibia compiled by International Development Consultants (IDC) in Association with Agritel and MBB Consulting Engineers for the Namibian Agronomic Board as implementing Agent for the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Rural Development, May 2004 at 5.
2. Land and Agrarian Context
3. Current Situation
4. Impact of Land and Agrarian Reform
5. Challenges and Initiatives
List of References
AALS Affirmative Action Loan Scheme