Encouraging sustainable smallholder agriculture in Namibia

Type Working Paper
Title Encouraging sustainable smallholder agriculture in Namibia
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 1997
URL http://www.eldis.org/fulltext/namibia.pdf
Farming in Namibia’s Northern Communal Areas (NCAs) is predominantly for subsistence
purposes, and is characterised by very low and even declining productivity due to a combination
of low and uneven rainfall and poor soils, with conditions of extreme income inequality and
poverty, undernutrition, out-migration of labour and high population growth rates. More
contentious is whether and to what extent resource degradation is taking place and whether land
use systems are sustainable. Communal agriculture makes a very limited contribution to
Namibia’s GDP, and, despite a lack of clear data, is probably a vital source of income only for
poorer farmers (defined, for convenience, as the 46 per cent of the households in the NCAs
spending 60 per cent of their total consumption expenditure on food). Behind these problems
lies a lack of appropriate resource conserving technologies, weak community-based institutions
for the management of natural resources, and, in several key respects, a disabling overall policy
environment. At the same time farmer support services are newly established and yet to have
widespread impact. While technological and socio-economic advances may be expected to yield
some growth in the agricultural sector, the key policy objectives for the future, this report
suggests, should be risk reduction, production stability, and the diversification of agricultural and
non-agricultural economic opportunities in the rural areas. The most fundamental problem
remains, seven years after independence, the lack of a clear policy, administrative structures and
legislation dealing with land allocation, tenure and management

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