25 May 2019 18:40pm
OKONGO, 25 MAY (NAMPA) Minister of Urban and Rural Development, Peya Mushelenga said agriculture is globally one of the most crucial sectors when it comes to ensuring food security and contributes 3,8 per cent to the gross domestic product (GDP) in Namibia.
Mushelenga said this on Saturday whilst officially opening the second edition of the Okongo Village Council-organised Omaludi Festival in the Ohangwena Region.
The festival is a culture-inspired event and a platform where communal farmers from all over northern Namibia for the first time last year started to showcase their well-fed cattle to win prizes.
According to Mushelenga, agriculture supports about 70 per cent of the Namibian population.
He told his audience, including former President Hifikepunye Pohamba and Ohamba (queen) Martha Mwadinomho waKristian yaNelumbu of Oukwanyama, that communal agriculture has the potential to contribute to the growth of rural areas, alleviate poverty, reduce unemployment and minimise inequalities.
However, in order for communal farmers to contribute to rural development and transit into commercial farming, it has to start with bridging the gap that exists between commercial and communal farmers, he narrated.
Despite the significant role that the sector plays in creating employment opportunities and its potential to alleviate poverty, Mushelenga said, the uptake of agriculture as a business by communal farming communities in Namibia is still minimal.
This is of course attributed to challenges such as limited access to inputs, access to land, poor soils and natural disasters such as the current drought being experienced countrywide, stated the minister.
He called on stakeholders, government departments and commercial farmers who are entrusted with the role of developing agriculture, to identify shortcomings and recommend measures that would enable communal farmers to start thinking of farming as a business.
Addressing the same event, Ohangwena Region Governor Usko Nghaamwa said the aim of the festival is to boost the local economy and attract investors and other communities to do business and share knowledge with others.
Okongo is the one and only village council we have in the Ohangwena Region which is in the process of growing and gearing forward to become a town council, Nghaamwa additionally pointed out.
The 2019 Omaludi Festival is hosted under the theme Keeping Agriculture, Our Culture, Alive and ends on Saturday, 01 June.