Agricultural Retirement Fund to go
The Agricultural Employers Association (AEA) announced that it would ditch its own pension fund in favour of the yet to be established national pension fund. This was revealed by the association’s Principal Officer, Danie van Vuuren.
An affiliate of the Namibia Agricultural Union, the Agricultural Employers Association manages a private pension fund for its farmer members and their agricultural employees. The Namibia Agricultural Retirement Fund (NARF) consists of 106 employers and a further 745 employees, with reserves running in excess of N$5 million.
Growing complaints by members concerning the poor administration of the retirement fund have lead to Alexander Forbes Financial Services Namibia replacing the entire Namibia Agricultural Retirement Fund administration team with four new staff members.
However, regarding the intended switch-over, Van Vuuren anticipated a smooth transition of members from the old pension fund to the new pension fund and said, “The NARF will do normal business until the date of such transfer. Participants will not be prejudiced by the transfer at all as their member values will accompany them to the new fund.”
Van Vuuren replaced Riaan Laubscher as the AEA’s representative on the NEF Board and Executive Committee as from June 2013.
Commenting on the Namibia Labour Force Survey of 2013, the association was worried that no distinctions were drawn between communal and commercial farm employees in the survey and remained doubtful whether rations (payment in kind) and free housing were taken into account.
The Agricultural Employers Association undertakes wage surveys on a bi-annual basis to provide data for decision-making on all levels.
An apprenticeship system proposed by the Agricultural Employers Association is still pending on account of educational requirements that must be met. Prospective apprentices should hold a Grade 10 qualification as stipulated by the Namibia Training Authority. The AEA feels this bar is far too high, taking into consideration that many farmworkers drop out of school before completing this grade.
“As positive as this project is, it still does not serve the needs of the youngsters who only have primary schooling,” Chairman of the Agricultural Employers Association, Mr Helmut Förtsch remarked.
Another issue raised in the congress was that of mobile clinics serving outlying farms by the company PharmAccess, has turned out not to be profitable. PharmAccess reports that they will move to areas in and around Windhoek where more workers congregate, gradually phasing out the existing service to remote farms.
Meanwhile Occupational Health and Safety guidelines for farming in Namibia is still a work in progress as the guidelines will have to be placed in a Namibian context. This issue was introduced to the recent NAU congress through the Chairman’s Report and was discussed by the meeting.