President Nangolo Mbumba at the Africa Fertiliser and Soil Health Summit in Nairobi, Kenya

I am pleased to address this African Union Summit for the first time as president of the Republic of Namibia, following the untimely passing on 4 February of our beloved third president, Hage Geingob. 

May his memory and legacy continue to live on.

Given that the global population has risen fourfold over the past century, significantly more food is needed worldwide, which correlates with the need for more agricultural inputs, including fertilisers.

In the African context in particular, addressing food demand is a pressing issue given the continent’s rapidly growing population and the challenges posed by natural disasters, soil degradation, as well as limited access to modern agricultural inputs and technologies. In this regard, fertilisers can help address nutrient deficiencies in African soils, thereby increasing crop yields and improving food security.

However, it is important to note that while fertilisers have played a crucial role in increasing agricultural productivity, their indiscriminate use can also have negative environmental consequences, such as soil degradation, water pollution, and greenhouse gas emissions. 

Therefore a balanced approach to soil fertility management is essential, integrating mineral fertilisers with organic inputs, conservation agriculture practices, and agro-ecological principles to promote sustainable agricultural systems that meet both current and future food needs without compromising the health of the environment. This holistic approach will be critical for addressing the food demands of Africa and ensuring the long-term sustainability of global food production systems.

Approximately 70% of Namibians are dependent on agriculture for their livelihoods. Even though agriculture’s contribution to our country’s gross domestic product is currently only 8%, crop and livestock farming support the majority of Namibians, many of whom reside in rural areas. 

A large percentage of our farmers still practise subsistence, rainfed agriculture and livestock herding. Furthermore, given Namibia’s arid to semi-arid environment, large-scale commercial agriculture is constrained by the scarcity of water. The main crops under irrigation include maize, wheat, vegetables, and fodder.

At the regional level, Namibia, together with other Southern African Development Community member states and key stakeholders, developed the Harmonised Fertiliser Regulatory Framework (HFRF) to promote uptake and improved utilisation of quality fertilisers. 

This framework is in line with the 2006 Abuja Declaration on Fertilisers for an African Green Revolution to stimulate and improve access to and availability of quality fertilisers. 

We also support the full operationalisation of the AU Fertiliser Centre in Zimbabwe, which should be reflected in our outcome documents.

Namibia is ready to play its part to contribute to food security on the continent. While imports of fertilisers to the continent are welcome, local production should be promoted and supported. Our country is endowed with natural wind and sun resources, and it is well on its way to become a competitive producer and exporter of green hydrogen, reckoned to catalyse the decarbonisation of the planet.

Green ammonia is a derivative of green hydrogen, and at full scale Namibia will be producing about three million tonnes of green ammonia annually for regional and global markets. With increased local production of green ammonia, which is one of the ingredients necessary to produce fertilisers, our continent can augment food production through fertiliser usage. 

Agricultural produce can be further traded through the African Continental Free Trade Area at an affordable price. We therefore invite potential investors to explore opportunities in ammonia and fertiliser production in Namibia and elsewhere across the continent.

Additionally, we encourage fellow AU member states to endeavour to acquire fertilisers from Africa as a means of supporting efforts to produce more fertilisers locally. We hope this sentiment will also be reflected in our outcome documents.

By fostering collaboration, innovation, and investment in agricultural development, we can overcome the challenges facing African agriculture and unlock the sector’s full potential to nourish growing populations, alleviate poverty, and drive economic growth. 

Let us as Africans work together in unison by holding hands and remaining steadfast in our commitment to advancing the goals of food security, poverty reduction, and sustainable development across the continent. By doing so, we will ensure that we are on the way to becoming “an integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa, driven by its own citizens and representing a dynamic force in the international arena”.

Stay informed with The Namibian – your source for credible journalism. Get in-depth reporting and opinions for only N$85 a month. Invest in journalism, invest in democracy –
Subscribe Now!

Latest News