EXPERTS in the agricultural sector will this morning discuss the impact of Covid-19 on the agricultural sector. Similar to tourism, agriculture is one of the sectors hit the hardest by the pandemic.
Speaking at the at the Covid-19 Communication Centre, Percy Misika said the tough times faced by the agricultural sector is not as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, but rather the devastating three-year drought Namibia has had to face.
The executive director said Namibia has been struggling to meet its export obligations despite the functions of the sector being classified as essential services. However, business is continuing as usual in spite of the challenges faced.
NNFU’s acting executive director said their members have always been affected in terms of production prior to Covid-19. She said they are looking at the pandemic as a fleeting moment and added it seems well-managed. Xulu said the issues in the sector have been issues for a long time, with dwindling financial investments – especially in the communal sectors.
She said Covid-19 found the agricultural sector in a depression and the sector should be expecting reduced activity and lower yields.
NAU executive manager Roelie Venter said a number of agricultural sector activities has had to be halted or cancelled due to Covid-19. He said there is uncertainty in terms of what’s going to happen – especially since the sector exports 80% of its produce.
He said farmers are doing all they can to prevent retrenchments.
“We are doing all we can to mitigate the losses on the farmers, while assisting them in preventing any retrenchments and wage cuts,” he said.
The agriculture ministry’s executive director said according to previous assessments, 744 000 Namibians were food insecure and are receiving food hampers from the government. Misika said following the Covid-19 pandemic, the future of food security looks bleak.
“More people would be added to this figure. More people have lost their jobs and do not have any means of acquiring food,” he said.