If Only Agriculture Received the Same Attention as Green Hydrogen

Faustinus Shikukutu

If only agriculture enjoyed the attention it deserved, Namibia might not experience malnutrition deaths and hunger-related ills.

There is an Argentinian quote that eloquently sums up the importance of agriculture: “At least once in a lifetime one needs a doctor, a lawyer, an architect – but every day, three times a day, one needs food!”

Although agriculture, with its potential to boost socio-economic development, is recognised as a priority sector in Namibia’s national development plans, it receives little attention.

The International Labour Organisation notes that agriculture is considered the mainstay of many rural economies, ensuring food security, employment, livelihoods, export earnings and economic development.

Agricultural and food policies have a crucial role in reducing rural poverty, as well as aggregating poverty, in Namibia; most of the poor live in rural areas and are employed or involved in agriculture.


Over the years, our government has tried to promote agriculture through its national development plans.

So far, it has not produced the desired results; output has not increased enough to allow for sustainable food security.

Yet, barely a day passes without Namibians hearing or reading about green hydrogen

This newfound ‘saviour’, heralded as the answer to our economic ills and opening the door to prosperity for Namibians, is on everyone’s lips.

We only seem to hear about agriculture from the agriculture minister, the farmers’ union or farmers complaining about lack of grazing, poor roads or strict loan requirements.

Food security is critical. No one can go without sustenance for a day let alone more than a day.

I agree with the view expressed by Josef Sheehama in a recent article, ‘Strengthening Agricultural Planning’, in the New Era newspaper.

Sheehama said while all sectors are critical for Namibia’s economic growth and employment creation, one would love to see more energy devoted to agriculture, especially given Namibia’s skills shortage.

Most Namibians live in rural areas where agriculture is their main source of survival.

Many are unskilled and tilling the soil is the only way to help alleviate hunger and poverty.

Yes, the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry, through initiatives such as the Green Scheme and National Horticulture Development Initiative, is trying to increase agricultural production.

However, there is less attention, enthusiasm or resources compared to green hydrogen, which is spoken about in near messianic terms when it comes to reducing unemployment and poverty.

Giving more attention to the agricultural sector will help address income inequality and contribute to reducing unemployment.


If agriculture receives the attention it deserves, it could play a significant role in the following areas:

• Reduce dependency: Supporting farmers and rural citizens will reduce the dependence syndrome, e.g. waiting for 12,5 kg bags of maize meal distributed through the drought relief scheme.

• Lessen urbanisation: Windhoek and other major centres continue to experience a major influx of people in search of greener pastures.

Greater attention to agriculture can help lessen the number of people flocking to urban areas as they will be employed in the agriculture sector and able to produce their own food.

• Expectations: While many Namibians seem to welcome the advent of green hydrogen as a means of reducing unemployment and propelling Namibians towards prosperity, one would rightly have expected the same energy and attention for agriculture.

• Mobilising Resources: Supporting agriculture should result in a surplus production of food which can be given to deserving destitute families.

For most of the rural populace, having a solid meal is more heavenly than visiting Dubai.


Surely it should be an imperative that the type of vigour and enthusiasm around green energy is applied to mobilising resources for agriculture.

Farmers could be assisted through distributing free seeds and ploughing, while funds can be mobilised to help them improve their infrastructure.

It is vital that more attention is given to the multiple factors that hamper agricultural development such as insufficient infrastructure, skills, innovation, food processing and marketing, lack of fertilisers, land access and poor roads.

If agriculture was embraced with the same energy and optimism as green hydrogen, many Namibians would not go to bed without a meal.

  • Faustinus Shikukutu is a resident of the Kavango East region.

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