2.6% contraction in agriculture

By Rosalia David

THE Agricultural, Forestry and Fishing sector registered a contraction of 2.6 percent in 2019 compared to a decline of 1.9 percent in 2018, Minister of Agriculture, Water and Land Reform Calle Schlettwein has revealed.

Speaking at the Market-Led Agricultural Conference recently, Schlettwein said for 2019, the decline was predominantly driven by both crop farming and the livestock sub-sectors that recorded contractions of 13.5 percent and 6.7 percent respectively.

“Overall GDP share of the agricultural sector now stands at only 3.9 percent, down from about seven percent in 2006.”

Schlettwein also said that the Namibian economy is consumption-led depending up to about 60 percent on public consumption adding that, when public consumption drops, growth disappears.

“Secondly, as an economy that consumes what it does not produce (finished goods and services), and produces what it does not consume (primary commodities such as minerals, fish and other raw materials), stimulating the economy by higher public consumption does not cut it.”

He said structural reform and significant investments in the productive sector are required while the economy must be turned into an investment-led and export driven one with domestic and regional value chains adding value to available raw materials. “Quality finished goods and services should become our tradable products, not only primary goods.”

The minister however highlighted that the current global economic downturn, the Covid-19 pandemic and climate change including climate variability have negatively impacted economies around the world, including Namibia.

“These challenges are exacerbated by the fact that Namibia’s agriculture sector lags far behind in the application of modern agricultural production and processing technologies. These difficult times have        caused some trading partner countries to impose export restrictions and prohibitions of staple grain foods and other essential products such as medicines and medical equipment.”