By Josef Kefas Sheehama
It has been stated that land is the primary source of inequality in contemporary society and in this regard, Namibia is no different.
The concept of a willing seller, the willing buyer is a policy adopted by the Namibian government under which those who owned land can sell it of their own will to those who want to buy it of their own will in the open market. The willing buyer and willing seller principle have not delivered results and Second National Land Conference calls to intensify the implementation of an accelerated land delivery method. Land reform is important from the social and economic viewpoints. From the social point of view redistribution of land and the creation of small farms is important for promoting not only equity or distributive justice but also for increasing the efficiency and productivity of agriculture. The rural poor constitute a significant segment of the population. The inverse relationship between farm size and productivity implies that land reforms could raise productivity by breaking less productive large farms into several more productive small farms. If productivity under sharecropping is lower than the owner cultivated farms, then conferment of ownership rights to the sharecroppers will increase productivity and efficiency in agriculture.
The move by the Development Bank of Namibia to consider financing land and inputs- for agricultural enterprises should be applauded. DBN recognizes agriculture as one of the critical enablers to significantly grow the Namibian economy and for job creation. Thank you for a job well done! With job creation, the sector is one of the biggest employers in the economy as it is more labour intensive than other sectors. Notwithstanding the positive impact of the developmental funds introduced by the Development of Namibia in addressing market entry and concentration levels, it is evident that these interventions and remedies alone will not address the issue of persisting high concentration in this sector. Further, as this is the mandate of the Agricultural Bank of Namibia, it is important to understand how financing in the sector operates and what the challenges faced are. Therefore, given the fact that the Development Bank of Namibia provide financing to farmers to acquire land and inputs the DBN can play an active supplier role by acquiring and supplying these inputs and land to farming enterprises that they can negotiate through coordination of resources.
The development in Namibia is guided by the Vision 2030 initiative, the Fifth National Development Plan, the zero-hunger strategic review and the Harambee Prosperity Plan, which all recognize the importance of food and nutrition security and support the Zero Hunger initiative in contributing to Namibia’s drive to achieve Sustainable Development Goals 2 and 17. Land plays a central role in the economy. Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine Increases Food Insecurity in Africa. The Food and Agricultural Organization estimates that as many as 13 million more people worldwide will be pushed into food insecurity as a result of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. With Ukrainian supplies cut off, food prices are on the rise across Africa. The food Namibia imports includes various categories of vegetables, potatoes, tomatoes, apples, tea, spices, the seed of wheat, maize, roasted, malt, sunflower seed and oil, margarine, prepared foods, bulgar wheat, sweet biscuits and all types of juices and water. Little attention is vested on communal farmers and their indigenous knowledge of food production. The Zambezi and the two Kavango regions are by far the best options as hubs for food security in Namibia. This whole dependence on South Africa and other countries for everything, especially food is going to cost us a lot. If our own people, government and whosoever are concerned do not invest in these things soon, we as a nation will be labelled as the begging nation.
The government should first focus on land reform and make it part of its agenda. The potential of improving the economic situation of Namibia is if the right policies are made and implemented. The Namibian Constitution has been described as a transformative constitution because it was designed to heal the divisions of the past and establish a society based on democratic values, social justice and fundamental human rights, improve the quality of life of all citizens and free the potential of each person. Land provides sustenance for current and future generations, it is connected to spiritual beliefs, traditional knowledge and teachings, and it is fundamental to cultural reproduction, moreover, commonly held land rights reinforce nationhood. Land reform is a major means of attaining the goals of social justice and economic progress in Namibia. It is critical not only in terms of providing historical redress for centuries of settler dispossession but also for resolving the national democratic revolution in Namibia. Therefore, addressing the Land Reform matter will not erode property rights, but will instead ensure that the rights of all Namibians, and not just those who currently own land, are strengthened.
Furthermore, agriculture sectors have to become more productive by adopting efficient business models and forging Public-Private Partnerships. And they need to become sustainable by addressing greenhouse gas emissions, water use and waste. The risks are malnutrition, hunger and even conflict. Without stable and long-lasting food security, there will be a continued negative effect on human capital and this will raise government fiscal costs, with negative consequences on government public spending. This will also lead to stagnated economic growth in the long term. Thus, food security is central to both short and long term economic growth and it needs to be a central part of a larger cross-sectoral strategy at the national, regional and global levels.
To this end, land reform is a much more complicated process than realized by the general public, and also the majority of politicians. It is an involved process requiring much in terms of finance, intellectual manpower, organization, planning and execution. It requires serious research into the whole process, something in which the Namibian bureaucracy, unfortunately, does not appear to be interested.
Therefore, the process also needs some understanding and sympathy in the international arena. Ultimately the main requirements are perhaps comprehension and the political will on the part of policymakers, coupled with commitment and perseverance on the part of those who have to do the job.