Local produce does not reach markets: Mutorwa

03 Jul 2017 17:40pm
WINDHOEK, 03 JUL (NAMPA) – Many Namibians are willing to grow vegetables and other fresh produce but their products do not reach the markets, said Minister of Agriculture, Water and Forestry John Mutorwa.
Speaking at the official inauguration of the newly appointed Namibian Agronomic Board (NAB) members here on Monday, Mutorwa said Namibians consume imported products because of the lack of access to local produce.
“This is because those that are willing to produce something do not have assistance to be included in the mainstream so that they can market their products,” said Mutorwa.
He emphasised that Government should be exemplary when supplying food through tenders to institutions such as school feeding programmes, hospitals and military institutions, and have Namibian produce as part of the tender specifications.
The minister said Namibia needs to drop the argument that there is not a consistent supply of local produce, when access is the problem.
“If farmers are assisted then they will produce what the market needs,” said Mutorwa, noting the importance of equipping farmers with the relevant skills for their produce to reach the local market.
The ministry’s Permanent Secretary, Percy Misika two months ago told to Nampa that the Office of the Prime Minister in May submitted a comprehensive integrated agricultural development document to Cabinet.
The document contains statistics on agricultural products produced domestically and how much of it is consumed by Namibia.
“Once that is known, you can look at strategic commodities that can be produced,” he said adding there is also a need to change how Government assists the agriculture sector.
He said if Government institutions that have significant purchasing power can buy directly from local producers, Namibia can develop from being a net food importing country to one that exports food within five years.
“Instead of us subsidising products such as fertilisers, seeds and ploughing services, once the Government institutions have contracts to procure what is produced locally, the farmer can use this contract at a financial institution to get a loan,” he said.
The newly appointed board members are, Chairperson Michael Iyambo , Deputy Chairperson Maria Anna-Elizabeth Muller; Josephine Nakwedi Fugre; Jason Emvula; Ferdina Magano Inkono; Andreas Lutgerus Kolver ; Jocelyn Karin; Tjijombo-Kangotue; Elinah Mwaka Kalundu; Leon Nel; Lukas Mbangu; Wilhelmine Handunge; Hubertus Hamm and Tarcisius Shingundu.
They will serve for three years.