The Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Land Reform has opened up a two-week national food system dialogue aimed at transforming the country’s agricultural sector to ensure that Namibia becomes a food sovereign nation.
Speaking at the government information centre here on Thursday, Deputy Director of Agriculture Production in the ministry, Ben Haraseb explained that the discussions are taking place ahead of the United Nations Food Systems Summit scheduled for September 2021, which Namibia is taking part in.
He explained that the discussions from 29 July until 16 August serve as a platform for all agricultural key stakeholders to participate and add value to the document that agriculture minister Calle Schlettwein will submit at the summit, aimed at changing the country’s food system in efforts to ensure that Namibia becomes food self-sufficient.
Haraseb noted that the COVID-19 pandemic has woken up countries, including Namibia, to come up with strategies and policies that will ensure food production and self-reliance, stressing that currently Namibia heavily depends on South Africa for most of its food consumption.
“The ministry decided to engage stakeholders within the agriculture sector to share issues that hamper the local food system. As a country we almost faced food shortages when SA closed its borders during the first COVID-19 outbreak and that has led us to think around how we can change our food systems,” he said.
He added that thus far, major issues emerging from the dialogues amongst others include reviewing of policies and ensuring implementation and investment in the sector by government usage of productive land alongside the country’s perennial rivers and infrastructure development as well as human capacity within the sector.
Speaking at the same event, head of the UN World Food Programme in Namibia, Elvis Odeke said the summit is a call to action by the UN secretary general for member states to accelerate the journey towards achieving sustainable development goal two of zero hunger.
“Though we find in ourselves in a technological era where food production is made much easier, we continue to experience large numbers of hungry people globally, of which the current number stands at 800 million. The UN noted that the journey to achieving zero hunger is a bit slow, therefore it is time for every member state to address the seemingly failing food systems,” he said.
Odeke noted that the UN seeks an inclusive summit hence every member state, including Namibia, is hosting open discussions for every sector to share views on how Namibia can address the impediments within the food system and ensure increased production.
Source: Namibia Press Agency (NAMPA)