01 Feb 2014 15:40pm
WINDHOEK, 01 FEB (NAMPA) The lack of reliable livestock figures in the commercial agricultural sector has prompted the Namibia Agricultural Union (NAU) to conduct a needs assessment for the industry.
In its latest newsletter issued on Friday, the NAU raised the concern that a group of agricultural economists have expressed their concern regarding some critical aspects concerning the commercial agricultural sector.
The concern is, among others, the lack of reliable livestock figures in the commercial agricultural sector which is vital for any planning actions. Although statistics are being kept by the Directorate of Veterinary Services, the reliability thereof is being questioned increasingly. It seems difficult to link this information to the marketing figures provided by the Meat Board of Namibia, it stated.
A further concern is the lack of production figures in the sector.
The NAU launched a computer software programme named Agristat four years ago with the aim of creating a central database with production and other important figures in the industry. This programme enables individual producers to compare their figures against a national average. However, only a few producers use the programme and thus the only reliable production and financial figures available are derived from a few study groups that are still active throughout the country. The past couple of years showed a downward tendency of new and active study groups, hence the information available is also becoming less, according to the statement.
The NAU also blamed the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry, which it said focuses mainly on statistics in the communal areas.
Extension services provided by the extension officers in some commercial agricultural regions do not visit farms and provide advice to producers as often as they used to. The NAU noted that extension services, especially for young and inexperienced producers, are vital.
To address the problem a needs assessment will be conducted as a first step among both service providers and users of the agricultural profession. The service providers are among others the University of Namibia and Polytechnic of Namibia, whilst on the user side it involves the banks, extension services and producers, it noted.
Furthermore, the possibility of bursaries will be investigated with a specific purpose to assist agricultural economists to bridge the gaps in the market. According to the NAU, further action steps will be identified through the needs assessment.