WINDHOEK: There is an urgent need to mobilise sectoral inter-ministerial support in order to respond to water and related farm infrastructure requests by farmers.
Deputy Minister of Lands and Resettlement Theo Diergaardt made this call during his ministry’s annual staff address in the capital on Monday.
“We need to come up with a systematic plan to address post-settlement issues. There is a need for a data repository centre to support and give information on farms that have been serviced so that the budgetary allocations for this function can cater to requests from all regions,” he stressed.
Post-settlement support can be viewed as the “after-care” to be provided by Government to new farmers after they are resettled. It could be in the form of financial support, extension services and maintenance of infrastructure, as well as training services for the farmers.
Last year, rehabilitation and development of infrastructure on farms was carried out at a cost of N.dollars 4,3 million. A total of 34 farms were also rehabilitated – seven in the Omaheke Region and 27 in the Otjozondjupa Region.
Diergaardt is optimistic that with continued financial support, extension services, training and related post-settlement support for resettled farmers will make a positive impact in the agricultural sector.
He said the ministry’s planning should not be done in a vacuum devoid of consultations, but it should respond to the nation’s call for land and post-settlement support, which is becoming more urgent with each passing year.
Meanwhile, speaking about policy issues, Diergaardt noted the ministry’s efforts towards the revision and strengthening of expropriation criteria, guidelines on the removal of illegal fences in communal areas; the national resettlement policy; and the draft social welfare resettlement criteria.
Although there is on-going work pertaining to policy clarification and adjustment in the various directorates, the deputy minister explained that the revision of policies demonstrates the ministry’s ability to listen and respond to the needs of our communities.
During this year, the expected Deeds Registry Bill will be tabled in Parliament. The Flexible Land Tenure Act, Sectional Titles Act and the Valuations Professional Act were also finalised and passed on to Cabinet.
Plans are at an advanced stage for the implementation of the Property Valuers’ Professional Act through the registration of a Council to oversee the registration of Professional Valuers and the drafting of valuation standards in Namibia.
“Although financial challenges impinged on the set targets, we must accelerate current work in the following areas: land purchases; rehabilitation of infrastructure on resettlement farms; decentralisation of identified functions to regional councils; development of infrastructure in communal areas such as the development of small-scale commercial farms; and the production of integrated land-use plans,” he added.