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Opinion - Prioritise agriculture, Mr Shiimi

2024-02-23  Correspondent

Opinion - Prioritise agriculture, Mr Shiimi

Munyungano Musisanyani

While I fully appreciate the complexities and competing demands you face as the minister of finance, I believe it is essential to emphasise the importance of adequately funding the agriculture sector for the betterment of Namibia. 

I write this piece directly to you with full knowledge that you are responsible for the allocation of funds to every Namibian sector of the economy. 

As a concerned Namibian, I request you and your team to maximise the allocation of funds into the agriculture sector to improve Namibia’s food security status to safeguard the lives of poor Namibians. 

Dear minister, the agriculture sector plays a pivotal role in the economic development and food security of any nation. 

In Namibia, a country characterised by arid and semi-arid regions, agriculture is not only a source of livelihood for a significant portion of the population but also a means of ensuring food self-sufficiency and contributing to the overall economic growth. However, persistent underfunding of the agriculture sector has had far-reaching consequences, hampering its potential and negatively impacting the country’s socio-economic landscape. Agriculture is the backbone of Namibia’s economy, employing a significant portion of our population and contributing significantly to our Gross Domestic Product (GDP). 

Agriculture plays a pivotal role in ensuring food security, reducing poverty, and fostering rural development. About 70% of the country’s population depends directly or indirectly on agriculture for their income and livelihood. 

However, the sector continues to face numerous challenges such as underfunding that hinder its growth and potential contributions to the country’s economic development.


In August 2023, the Ministry of Finance and Public Enterprises under your watch resumed with a series of mid-term budget review consultations aimed at assessing the current state of the economy and devising measures to address emerging needs. 

The mid-term budget review and engagement with the business community underscore the government’s dedication to ensuring that fiscal policies and programmes align with the aspirations and requirements of the various regions and sectors. 

To my dismay, while other ministries received increased finances, no [additional] money was allocated to the agriculture ministry through this period. 

This demonstrates that the agricultural sector is perceived as less essential! Against this context, I urge the minister to pump more funds into the agriculture sector. 

In 2023, the Prime Minister’s Office announced that between July and September 2023, approximately 579 000 people in Namibia were facing high levels of acute food insecurity and requiring urgent humanitarian assistance. 

I strongly believe that this is a result of underfunding agriculture. 

More worryingly, it was projected that during the period of October 2023 to March 2024, the number of people expected to experience food insecurity will further rise to 695 000 people, amounting to roughly 26% of the population. 

In 2022, 58% of Namibians were food insecure, which translates to about 1.5 million hungry people, this was according to United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation report. Right now, some sections of our country, including the Zambezi region, are experiencing rainfall deficits. 

Shockingly, Namibia imports about 95% of its fruits, valued at N$200 million a year, to meet the gap in domestic demand. Honourable minister, how long should the government starve this essential sector of the economy?

Climate change

Namibia has been grappling with the adverse effects of climate change for years, including recurring droughts and erratic rainfall patterns. These climate-related challenges have severely impacted our agricultural production, leading to decreased yields and increased vulnerability among rural communities. 

Adequate funding in the agriculture sector would enable the development and implementation of climate-resilient farming practices and technologies, ensuring that Namibian farmers can withstand the changing climate and continue to produce food for our nation. Moreover, the youth unemployment rate in Namibia remains alarmingly high. The agriculture sector has the potential to provide sustainable employment opportunities for our youth, but it requires significant investment in modernising agricultural practices, providing training and skills development, and facilitating access to capital and resources for young aspiring farmers. By allocating more funds to the agriculture sector, we can address the issue of youth unemployment while also revitalising rural areas.

Furthermore, Namibia is striving to reduce its dependency on imported agricultural products. Increasing the budget allocation to agriculture would allow us to boost domestic production, reduce our reliance on imports, and enhance our food self-sufficiency. This, in turn, would lead to a more stable and secure food supply chain, benefiting all Namibian citizens.

I understand that the ministry of finance must carefully allocate resources to various sectors, and there are indeed numerous demands that require attention. However, I firmly believe that by investing more in agriculture, we can create a positive ripple effect throughout the economy. 

A well-funded agriculture sector will not only increase food production and reduce poverty but also stimulate related industries such as agribusiness, transportation, and manufacturing.

In conclusion, as you table the 2024/2025 financial budget, I urge you to reconsider the budget allocation for the agriculture sector in Namibia and allocate more funds to address the pressing issues and unlock the potential of this critical sector. 

By doing so, we can foster economic growth, enhance food security, create employment opportunities, and improve the lives of countless Namibians. 

I am confident that your leadership and vision can help steer our nation toward a brighter agricultural future. I look forward to positive changes in the budget allocation for the agriculture sector in the upcoming fiscal year.


* Munyungano Musisanyani is a multidisciplinary columnist and food security activist with an interest for social justice and human relations. 

2024-02-23  Correspondent

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