Budget motivation: Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Land Reform

Anna Shiweda

“After the good rains at farm Hadaloha and working on the final details of my Independence Day speech, I spent the last half of the afternoon inspecting my harvest. Food security is a crucial aspect in eradicating poverty. Agriculture has the potential to transform our economy.” – Former president Hage Geingob

I rise to introduce and motivate Vote 37: Agriculture and Land Reform for the 2024/25 financial year. 

As president Hage Geingob emphasised in 2018, indeed agriculture has the potential to transform the economy. I therefore begin this motivation speech by paying tribute to a farmer, our third president, Hage Geingob, who passionately recognised the importance of food security in Namibia. 
We are remembering his statement that no Namibian should die of hunger during and after the Harambee Prosperity Plan. May his soul continue to rest in everlasting power.

I am motivating for Vote 37, Agriculture and Land Reform, against the backdrop of a year that is marked by below-normal rainfall with sporadic and erratic rainfall patterns. 

This impact is particularly felt on the agriculture sector, which is the mainstay and lifeline of 70% of the Namibian population in terms of their livelihoods. This is yet another manifestation of the reality of climate change and climate variability phenomena, which requires us to rethink our agricultural production systems and strategies focusing on irrigation.

This remains a cause for serious concern for our government, especially in view of the erratic rainfall patterns which hamper the smooth implementation of agricultural production programmes, such as the Dry-Land Crop Production Programme, that are completely dependent on seasonal rainfall. 

It is obvious, therefore, that these unfavourable climatic conditions erode our capacity to increase food production, hence limiting our ability to ensure national food security, and impeding our strive towards the achievement of our national goal of food self-sufficiency.

According to the outcome of our seasonal assessment, complemented by climatic data from the Southern Africa Regional Climate Outlook Forum (Sarcof) and our national meteorological services, all indications are pointing towards a looming drought or at best widespread crop failures. 

In the regions where good precipitation was received during the first half of the season, farmers managed to cultivate their fields, taking advantage of the old and newly acquired government tractors and matching implements that were distributed to different constituencies throughout the country. 

At the beginning of the season, there was a sign of a good crop production year. However, high expectations and hopes of farmers for a good harvest started fading as the season progressed due to insufficient rain that was much needed to support further crop growth. As I speak, Namibia will most probably experience widespread crop failures, which will result in serious food shortages.

Looking at the food balance sheet, the indications are that the country will experience a high food deficit, especially for staple cereal crops (maize and pearl millet), which would need to be covered through food imports from outside the country. 

I should hasten to draw your attention to the fact that many Southern African Development Community (SADC) countries, such as South Africa, Zimbabwe and Zambia, on which we often rely for cereal imports, also received below-normal rainfall, which significantly reduced their cereal production. 

This means we will have to import cereals from other sources outside the SADC region. This in turn means a high cost of the domestic food basket for local consumers.

This situation is yet another wake-up call for us, as a country, to relook our food production systems and come up with innovative climate-smart strategies that would make the agriculture sector more responsive and resilient to the impact of climate change and climate variability.

Taking into consideration the above fact, I am motivating a total budget of N$ 1 937 358 000 for the 2024/25 financial year for Vote 37 under the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Land Reform. 

This budget represents an increase of 8.8% from last year’s allocation of N$1 768 669 000.

The allocation that I referred to consists of N$1 387 358 000 for operational expenditure representing 71,6% of the total budget allocation. In addition, the proposed development budget under this allocation amounts to N$550 000 000, which represents 28,4% of the total budget allocation to this vote. The Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Land Reform is field-based, which requires human resources, vehicles, machinery and equipment to deliver services such as veterinary and agricultural extension services.

It is worth highlighting that the increase of 8,8% represents 4,6% for remuneration to ensure that we are visible in all 121 constituencies of our country, 4,1% for development budget and only 0,3% for other services of operational nature that facilitates us to effectively execute our mandate. This is worrisome.

Overall N$1 001 891 025 (51,7%) is devoted to the development of the agriculture sector; N$270 444 088 (14%) is earmarked for land reform and resettlement; N$158 017 538 (8,2%) is for land administration, while N$507 005 349 (26,1%) has been allocated to policy coordination and support services.

In line with the ministerial medium-term plan, the agriculture and land sector is implementing four key programmes, namely:

i.        Agriculture development,

ii.       Land reform and resettlement,

iii.      Land management, and

iv.      Policy coordination and support services.

Allow me to provide a synopsis of the main achievements that were accomplished, and the specific activities and development projects proposed for funding under these programmes.

Programme 1: Agriculture development

This programme consists of the following line functions: veterinary services, agriculture production, extension and engineering services, and agricultural research and development.

This programme is at the core of the food and nutrition security objectives, but also the provision of field-based services to enhance increased agricultural production and productivity. It is important to highlight that this programme has a high job content when the enabling infrastructure and support services are optimally set up.

The objective of the agriculture development programme is to, among others:

a) Contribute to the achievement of national food and nutrition security through effective and broad-based agricultural extension and veterinary services and the development of value chains in the sector,

b)  Enhancing animal and plant health through annual vaccination, disease surveillance and diagnostic services to combat the outbreak of diseases such as foot-and-mouth disease, contagious bovine pleuropneumonia (CBPP) lung sickness, as well as the outbreak of locusts and other pests, and

c)   Increased production, productivity and the adoption of productivity-enhancing innovations through agricultural research and development.

During the 2023/24 financial year, notable progress has been made with dedicated interventions implemented under this programme, namely: –

The green scheme programme, which is a government initiative designed to maximise irrigation potential in the central, northern and north-eastern regions using the Kunene, Zambezi and Kavango rivers, as well as promote agro-projects in the south, using the Orange River, Naute Dam, Hardap Dam and Neckartal Dam. 

The overall goal is to work towards making Namibia self-sufficient in food production by increasing crop production, employment creation and boosting the contribution of agriculture to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP). 

This programme increases land under irrigation through infrastructure development of the existing irrigation projects which are in need of improvements and expansions, as well as new brown field projects envisaged by the government.

During the 2023/24 financial year, the ministry received an amount of N$120 000 000, which was used for the repair and maintenance of ageing irrigation infrastructure, the procurement of new tractors and implements, as well as the procurement of production inputs. 

It is pertinent to underscore that the green schemes were transferred back to the ministry in a dilapidated state and require substantial recapitalisation to bring them back to full production. Therefore, there is a need to allocate more funds to the operation of these green schemes, while at the same time fulfilling its mandate to support small-scale farmers at the project and subsistence farmers in the vicinity of the project, thus creating employment and improving the livelihoods of the communities.

The ministry has resuscitated the Sunflower Production Project by planting 40ha at Sikondo and Shadikongoro green schemes to be processed at the Shadikongoro Oil Processing Plant in the coming weeks. These projects are envisaged to grow by accommodating out-growers from neighbouring communities to contribute to sunflower oil production.

With regard to the Neckartal Dam phase 2 irrigation project, the ministry acquired 19 137ha of land at a cost of N$ 19 000 000. So far, 500ha is ready for development. To this end, the ministry is in the process of procuring consultancy services for the design and development of the irrigation system for the 500ha which is in the immediate proximity of the dam. 

During the 2024/25 financial year, an amount of N$ 65 000 000 has been allocated to green scheme projects, including the Neckartal Dam phase 2 irrigation project. This is a 54% reduction from the last allocation of N$120 000 000.

To optimally intensify production at green scheme projects, a total amount of N$400 000 000 is still required during the 2024/25 financial year. This amount includes the funds required for the further development of the Etunda irrigation project, and a total overhaul of green schemes, which is realistic to enable these projects to operate uninterrupted for the next 15 to 20 years. 

This means the current allocation of N$65 000 000 is a mere 16% of the required amount. While we acknowledge the fact that the ministry received funds from international financial institutions such as the African Development Bank (AfDB), it is imperative to point out that these funds are dedicated and committed to specific projects such as the Namibia Agriculture Mechanisation and Seed Improvement Project (Namsip).

Under the Dry Land Crop Production Programme (DCPP), an amount of N$45 700 000 was allocated during the 2023/24 financial year, while N$31 200 000 is allocated during this financial year. 

A total of 20 962 farmers were capacitated on crop, horticulture and livestock production, as well as rangeland management through demonstrations, farm visits and training activities at the agricultural development centres (ADCs), while over 16 018 communal farmers, comprising 6 244 men and 9 774 women benefited from subsidised mechanised services, and seed and fertiliser subsidies. 

This programme is set to benefit from the current roll-out of Namsip, with the financial support from the African Development Bank (AfDB). Through this programme, the ministry procured 298 tractors out of expected 350 tractors, with matching implements and fodder equipment.

In addition, under the same programme, the ministry has produced 38,6 tonnes of foundation seeds, and 107 tonnes of certified seeds. The seeds were produced at the ministry’s research stations, as well as farmers’ cooperatives and private farmers.

The seeds were distributed to farmers in all 10 crop-growing regions. This programme is allocated N$31 200 000 this financial year (2024/25), a reduction from the N$45 700 000 allocated during the 2023/24 financial year.

Poultry Value Chain Development Scheme

One of the key components of value chains is the Poultry Value Chain Development Scheme. 

The poultry sector is an integral part of the family system in rural Namibia. The programme aims to provide poultry producers an entry point to diversify their income earning, and create employment opportunities through training in poultry activities.

The scheme will further address the following, among others:

 – introducing rural women and youth into sustainable market-oriented poultry-rearing activities,

– enhancing the productivity of indigenous breeds,

– enhancing food and nutrition security of rural populations, and

– creating job opportunities for rural poultry producers, thereby reducing income inequality.

In the 2023/24 financial year, the programme received N$5 500 000 for all 14 regions, which supported 1 110 beneficiaries. This year (2024/25), the programme received N$5 000 000 to be divided among all 14 regions. It is a programme with great potential to create jobs and eradicate poverty at household level.

The Small-Stock Development and Distribution Programme

The ministry distributed 1 260 small stock (1 200 female and 60 male) to 60 beneficiaries from the //Kharas, Hardap and Erongo regions, with each region having 20 beneficiaries. Each beneficiary received 20 does/ewes and one buck/ram. The beneficiaries were trained in small-stock production and marketing, and received basic veterinary medicines, as well as small-stock husbandry equipment and fencing materials for the kraals. 

Furthermore, the ministry revolved 1 420 does to 71 beneficiaries in the Zambezi region (2), Kavango East (10), Kavango West (11), Kunene (4), Otjozondjupa (5), Omaheke (8), Hardap (11) and Erongo (20).

Veterinary services continue to be one of the mainstays of livelihoods for the majority of Namibians. In order to prevent animal disease outbreaks in the northern communal areas (NCAs), a total of 451 390 cattle were vaccinated against foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) in the infected and protection zones, while a total of 604 138 cattle were vaccinated against contagious bovine pleuropneumonia (CBPP) or lung sickness in all the NCAs.

Equally, the government has invested in livestock value chain infrastructure in the NCAs to unlock economic potential for the producers in the NCAs. As such, the Katima Mulilo abattoir continues to sell Namibian beef products to the south of the veterinary cordon fence (with 16 consignments of 168,78 tonnes) and to regional markets, such as Ghana (one consignment of 22,31 tonnes) and Angola (four consignments of 100,29 tonnes) under the commodity-based trade and with the quality and safety second to none.

The ministry has succeeded in securing market access for meat from the NCAs to Qatar. In addition, the ministry has also secured an export market to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for meat from south of the veterinary cordon fence.

The ministry has officially handed over the Rundu abattoir to Meatco as an operator as resolved by the Cabinet. This abattoir has been registered as an export abattoir in March 2024, and is ready to export to Qatar once the halal accreditation is finalised. Furthermore, it is important to inform you that the operationalisation of the Oshakati abattoir is being delayed by the ongoing arbitration process between the operator and the government.

Under the same programme, Eenhana abattoir as a local market abattoir is currently operational. The upgrading of the Outapi abattoir has been completed. However, servicing and testing of equipment is expected to be concluded by the end of June 2024, while the operation of the abattoir is expected to commence at the beginning of July 2024. The completion of the Ongwediva Meat Processing Plant is at an advanced stage, with only specialised works remaining to be completed by end of June 2024.

In addition, the ministry, with the assistance of the European Development Fund under the Livestock Support Programme, is in the process of upgrading the Opuwo abattoir to at least a C-class abattoir during the 2024/25 financial year. 

The Veterinary Service Programme under improvement of animal health received an amount of N$82 011 322, while the beef value chain received an amount of N$22 034 000 during the 2023/24 financial year. For the 2024/25 financial year an amount of N$87 009 000 and N$22 634 000 have been allocated, respectively.

For the 2024/25 financial year, a total of N$1 001 891 025 is allocated to the Agriculture Development Programme. This is a 5,3% reduction from N$1 057 796 000, which was allocated to this programme during the 2023/24 financial year. The allocation will be used to carry out the following activities, among others:

– Conduct annual vaccination campaigns against CBPP, FMD and rabies in order to control and improve animal health status in the NCAs,

– Conduct farm inspections for animal disease control and compliance with trading partners’ import requirement and international standards,

– Procure diagnostic materials and support the maintenance of the equipment at Central Veterinary Laboratory,

– Renovation, upgrading and equipping veterinary clinics to meet the requirements for registration with the Namibia Veterinary Council and for efficient delivery of veterinary services in various regions of the country,

– The construction of veterinary clinics and offices in various regions of the country to improve service delivery. I wish to also inform this august house that the dispute between the government and the contractor have been concluded, and August 26 is set to complete the construction of Okahao Veterinary Clinic, which is at 90%.

– Maintenance and upgrading of the veterinary fences,

– The complete construction of the Ongwediva Meat-Processing Plant,

– Operationalising  the Kalimbeza  Rice   Project  in the Zambezi region,

– The operationalisation of nine targeted green scheme projects, namely: the Etunda, Musese, Sikondo, Uvhungu Vhungu, Ndonga Linena, Shitemo, Shadikongolo, Orip and Hardap irrigation projects,

– The Operationalisation of the ministry’s research stations, namely: Mannheim, Omahenene, Okashana, Bagani Crop research stations, and Katima/Liselo farm in order to produce foundation and certified seed under both rainfed and irrigation,

– Procuring fertilisers and farming inputs for the Dry Land Crop Production Programme, and

– Supporting the development of the agricultural value chains.

Programme 2: Land Reform

This programme remains critical for our country’s socio-economic transformation. It is a programme that aims at rectifying the past imbalances of land distribution and redistribution of agricultural commercial land to eligible landless Namibians. It allows beneficiaries to be self-reliant in their farming operations and enter the mainstream of the Namibian economy. In order to achieve this objective, the beneficiaries are supported and capacitated through pre- and post-settlement support services.

This programme consist of two line functions:

i.  Land reform

ii.  Resettlement and regional programme Implementation

This programme addresses land acquisition for resettlement purposes for previously disadvantaged Namibians, including the special social groups. In particular, the ministry is tasked with the implementation of the resolutions of the second national land conference (NLC). Out of the 176 resolutions taken at the second national land conference, 16 were already in existence prior to the second NLC, 25 are fully implemented, 134 are ongoing, while one resolution on the government to conduct a study on the current land tenure systems to determine their impact and productivity for sustainable land management is pending resource mobilisation. 

A high-level committee, comprising various stakeholders and chaired by the prime minister, is charged with the responsibility to implement these resolutions.

Funding resource constraints and market price considerations limit the scale and speed of land acquisition. During the 2023/24 financial year, the ministry, with the resources at its disposal, implemented the following activities:

– It acquired seven farms for resettlement, with a combined size of 33 822ha at a cost of N$91 439 268,02,

– During the 2023/24 financial year, 23 beneficiaries were resettled, of which 1 unit was allocated to four generational farmworkers,

– A total of 7 821 communal land right registrations were ratified by communal land boards. The continuous registration of communal land rights is critical in strengthening the security of land tenure in communal areas. It is widely recognised that security of tenure helps to promote the socio-communal development of people and encourages the sustainable use of natural resources, which includes rangelands, grazing and water, and

– The revised resettlement policy was approved by the Cabinet, providing for, among others, the option of resettled farmers to have titles over their allocated farms, thus fully realising the empowerment objectives of the land reform agenda.

For the 2024/25 financial year, a total of N$270 444 088 is allocated for the Land Reform and Resettlement Programme. This proposed allocation aims to, among others, support:

i.      The land purchase sub-programme;

ii.     The flexible land tenure system;

iii.    Integrated regional land use plans for the Omusati, Oshana, Oshikoto, Ohangwena, Kunene, Erongo and Khomas regions;

iv.     The ongoing resettlement sub-programme; and

v.     The development of land in communal areas.

One of the transformational reforms envisaged for the 2024/25 financial year is the tabling of the land bill in parliament, which is now on the agenda for deliberation at the Cabinet Committee on Legislation (CCL). 

The bill will, among others, empower the ministry to manage communal and commercial agricultural land through one legal instrument. Further, a revised criterion for resettlement will be developed on the back of the revised resettlement policy as approved by the Cabinet in May 2023 to give greater impetus on assessed productivity of the farms and to promote youth, women and vulnerable groups’ consideration in resettlement activities. 

On that note, the revised national resettlement policy presents the government’s commitment to address the land redistribution challenges that our country continues to battle with in a more coordinated, inclusive and transparent manner.

On this note, I would like to applaud prime minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila and our minister, Calle Schlettwein, for advocating for the allocation of N$50 million for the acquisition of land for generational farmworkers. Although this may equate to three to five farms, taking the farm prices into consideration, at least it is a good move towards land delivery.

Programme 3: Land administration

This is a support programme to land delivery. It supports regional councils, town councils and other offices, ministries and agencies (OMAs) with valuation services, surveying and the registration of deeds. This programme is responsible for the following activities:

i.     Providing valuation and advisory services to OMAs,

ii.     Implementing tax on commercial agricultural land,

iii.    Land surveying and mapping,

iv.    Activities of the deeds offices, and the delimitation and demarcation of Namibia’s international borders.

During the 2023/24 financial year, the government commenced with the defence of its submission of the extension of the Continental Shelf to the United Nation Commission on the limit of the Continental Shelf (CLCS). During the 2024/25 financial year, the project is allocated N$54 000 000 out of the total N$158 000 000. The remaining N$104 017 538 is allocated to cover the following:

i.   Undertaking to reform the valuation profession through the establishment of the council;

ii.   The administration of land tax and valuation;

iii.   The national integrated geodesy;

iv.  The Namibia digital cadastral information system;

v.    The delimitation of the Namibian Continental Shelf;

vi.   The development of national fundamental data sets, and

vii.  The upgrading of the computerised deeds registration system to version CDRS 3.0 in Windhoek.

Programme 4: Policy coordination and support services

This programme is responsible for policy and regulatory functions and supervision, and promoting an agricultural marketing system and support services for field-based functions.

Key ongoing activities involve the following: The maintenance of the ministry’s capital infrastructure, the management of information systems, fleet management and maintenance, and the operationalisation of the Property Valuers Profession Act.

The ministry is now seized with the implementation process.

Other key policy and legislation reviews envisaged for the current financial year include the finalisation of the national agriculture investment plan and the signing of the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) Compact, the finalisation of the revised drought management policy and strategy, the development of the disaster risk management strategy for the agriculture, water and land sectors, the development of the valuation bill, and various pieces of legislation governing plant health.

A total of N$507 005 349 is allocated for the 2024/25 financial year to this programme as a backstopping function to enable the vote to execute the above outlined functions. 

This is an increase from N$396 067 771 for 2023/24 for ministry personnel visibility in all 121 constituencies of Namibia.

As I conclude, let me take this opportunity to thank Iipumbu Shiimi, the minister of finance and public enterprises, and Obeth Kandjoze, the director general of the National Planning Commission and their teams for the hard work in ensuring that, despite challenges, Vote 37 received an increase of 8.8% to enable it to deliver its mandate of steering the country through difficult economic conditions.

Sincere gratitude is also due to Calle Schlettwein, the minister of agriculture, water and land reform, for his visionary leadership and guidance. Special thanks goes to the ministry management under the leadership of the executive director, Ndiyakupi Nghituwamata, for their dedication, hard work and commitment to ensuring that we overcome challenges such as floods, and the outbreak of disease and pests.

Finally, we are mindful of the macroeconomic and fiscal fundamentals that guided this financial year’s appropriations to different votes. We are equally aware of the competing needs for resources among other important sectors. 

Furthermore, we highly appreciate the amount of funds that are allocated to Votes 37. I, however, wish to emphasise that production under irrigation is imperative, and the only option we have is to increase food production to ensure that the national strategic grain reserve facilities are kept at the required levels so as to guarantee national food security and eliminate food import dependency. 

Therefore, we would like to venture into pleading with Iipumbu Shiimi to kindly lend us a sympathetic ear when we whisper to him our request for more resources that are needed for the implementation of the green scheme programme for the reasons I cited earlier and the delivery of services to our farmers who equally share in food delivery.

With this motivation, I now call upon this august house to discuss, consider and approve the total budget request, which amounts to N$1 937 358 000 for Vote 37: agriculture and land reform for the 2024/25 financial year.

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