Agribank engages farmers, stakeholders in Otjiwarongo
Agribank, through its Agri Advisory Services role, hosted a stakeholder meeting in Otjiwarongo to strengthen and establish relations with key industry stakeholders to ensure collaboration in the planning and facilitation of regional farmers’ events as well as sharing of expertise and resources for capacity building purposes.
Marlayn Mbakera, Chairperson of the Otjozondjupa Regional Council, in her opening remarks applauded Agribank for its comprehensive loan portfolio especially the addition of the Women & Youth Loan Scheme. She further noted that she was fortunate to travel to the region with one of the Agribank Otjiwarongo Branch staff and enjoys great relations with the Branch.
However, of concern to her is the high stock theft that Otjozondjupa farmers are facing and asked that affordable insurance options for farmers be developed.
The event was attended by representatives from the Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Tourism, the Namibia Agricultural Union’s Otjiwarongo Farmers Association, the Namibia Charcoal Association, Feedmaster, Meatco, the Namibian Police Force, Agribank’s Otjiwarongo branch staff, Mentor for the Otjozondjupa areas and farmers.
Some of the challenges brought forward by the participants included the absence of preparation for veld fires, human-wildlife conflict and stock theft. Koos Briedenhann of farm Buffelhoek emphasized the importance of preparing your veld on an annual basis to help curb veld fires.
Inspector Geiseb, Acting Sub-Divisional Head of the Stock Theft Investigation for the Otjozondjupa region, shared statistics about stock theft escalation and provided some useful preventative hints to farmers to protect themselves while quoting the provisions in some sections of the Stock Theft Act.
Michael Degé from the Namibia Charcoal Association highlighted the causes of veld fires which include negligence, arson, crime syndicates, absence of farm management, etc. Challenges presented by the Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Tourism, Senior Forester, Nakangombe included amongst others illegal timber harvesting, compliance with Forestry rules and regulations, over-harvesting, clearing of large tracks of land for small scale farmers and uncontrolled fires.
A regular attendee of the Agribank events held in Otjozondjupa and Kunene regions, Gerhardus Seibeb gave testimony on the value he found in attending the training related platforms offered and that exposure to diversified farming options presented opened his eyes to adaptive ways of farming in drought-stricken areas.
Further, participants expressed their appreciation towards Agribank for creating this stakeholder interactive platform where issues of mutual concern can be highlighted, best practices can be shared thereby strengthening communication channels and increasing collaboration amongst key industry players.