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What benefit in Infant Industry Protection?

Dear Editor
Namibia Consumer Trust (NCT) being a policy advocacy organisation took note of the ministerial statement made by Hon Carl Schlettwein in the National Assembly on infant industry protection and quantitative restrictions on imports of certain products, especially chicken and dairy products.
NCT is a strong supporter of Namibia’s ability to produce its own food. It is for this reason that NCT opposed natural resources such as water and land to be used for biofuel, when Jatropha was  planted in the Kavango and Zambezi regions.

 While biofuel is good for the environment, Namibia can not allow food and or related resources to be used for fuel. Thus the government decision to discouraged Jatropha was appreciated.
It is for the same reason that NCT supports the Ministry of Trade’s efforts to enhance the [local] production of (staple) food.
However consumers want to see certain conditions being met when these policies are implemented. NCT was invited to tour the poultry plant just north of Windhoek and was also granted a meeting by the minister during its analysis of the matter.
The minister announced measures such as monitoring of price and corrective action through a retail charter during the protection period of local industry.
The management of food prices by the state is certainly in line with the citizens’ right to food and nutrition as well as the state’s obligation to respect this right.
This is further in line with the Namibian constitution (article 98 (1)) in that human dignity is equally important as economic development.
While welcoming this initiative NCT is calling on the Chairman of Cabinet to establish an advisory committee to Cabinet to deal with food security and food safety, consisting of ministers of trade, health, fisheries, education and agriculture as well as the Namibian private sector, unions and consumer activists. This will enable direct dialogue between stakeholders without sector concerns being hijacked by importers to the detriment of the Namibian society.
This will further ensure that plant and animal products whether locally produced or imported are safe for human consumption. Such a committee may be tasked to see that national food security is translated into household food and nutrition security as the process is not automatic.
For example Namibia is food secure in protein such as meat and fish, but needs to strengthen existing efforts and coordination as well as to actually measure benefits to society in terms of health and education.
Thus NCT welcomes the announced retail charter and would be happy to cooperate with government in the management of prices. NCT herewith also welcomes the establishment of the Agriculture Marketing Trading Agency (AMTA) in the quest for food security.
Michael Gaweseb
Executive Director
Namibia Consumer Trust

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