December 3, 2010

Pohamba: Land reform a threat to political stability

The slow pace of land reform could threaten the political stability in the country. So said President Hifikepunye Pohamba at the opening of the eighth congress of the Namibia National Farmers' Union (NNFU). Pohamba said the country could be in for war should the land issue not be addressed with urgency. "Many revolutions were started by landless [people]," Pohamba said. He added that the pace at which land reform was taking place needed to be sped up. "Why can't we move faster on the issue of land? If you are not careful, it could become a problem. In the Bible we read if you have too much, you better give a piece to your brother and sister."

Although he does "not incite the people to go and become revolutionary", he appealed to those who have land to sell part of it to Government. "We don't have to retaliate, but let's be reasonable. We have to look at the situation with big eyes - with a view to sharing the land."

Furthermore, NNFU president Pintile Davids said the willing buyer, willing seller policy did not work. "Land prices in this country have become unaffordable. Although Government is paying good prices for land, black upcoming farmers will not be able to acquire land. Only the State will. We are in a serious problem."

Another hurdle that communal farmers face is the lack of access to financing, Davids said. "It is a known fact that the banking sector is not communal farming friendly." The union leader urged Government "to come up with a comprehensive financing scheme" to help communal farmers to not only make ends meet but also contribute meaningfully to the economy. Small-stock farmers are also sucking on the hind teat, he intimated. "We have been battling with the Ministry of Agriculture for years on [the] whole small-stock issue."

Pohamba further expressed his concern about food security: "There is no doubt that it is vital for Namibia, as a nation, to be able to feed herself. Equally importantly, it is vital for our nation to ensure food security at both the household and national levels. This implies that we must drastically increase local food production and proportionately reduce food imports from outside our borders." (The Namibian)

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