Post-drought recovery expected to take another 3 to 5 years
After below normal rainfall for the past 7 years, Namibia received good rains at the beginning of 2020, however, farmers entered the restocking phase with negative cash flows, with the country’s agricultural debt standing at N$7.1 billion in June 2019.
Considering the extent of debt farmers are in, it is anticipated that the country’s post-drought recovery will take 3 to 5 years.
Statistics by the Namibia Agricultural Union shows with livestock producers entering a herd rebuilding phase, the number of cattle and sheep marketed in during the first quarter of 2020 reduced with 31.4% and 59.2%, respectively.
Bertha Ijambo, Agricultural Economist at the Namibia Agricultural Union stressed that the country’s post-drought recovery challenge is now coupled with the coronavirus pandemic, and there exists uncertainties post-Covid-19 that could negatively influence investment into agriculture sector.
Ijambo notes that classifying the agriculture sector as an essential service/industry during the lockdown was a good starting point, however, more can be done to ensure the sustainability of the sector beyond Covid-19.
“Therefore, during Covid-19 period it would be idle to have a minimal disruption of the agricultural activities to ensure food sustainability and to prevent adverse effects such as job and livelihood losses that could be detrimental to the rural economy and the Namibian economy at large,” Ijambo said.
Meanwhile, livestock prices improved in the first quarter of 2020, whereas the agri-inflation increased at a decreasing rate in the same period, while the number of cattle auctioned declined from 79852 cattle in first quarter of 2019 to 77943 cattle during the same quarter of 2020, signifying a slight reduction of 2.4%.
Namibia’s agriculture sector sustains about 70% of the population and supports a great part of the rural economy.