Saturday 15 May 2021
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Female farmers lagging behind

Out of 648 loans acquired through Agribank’s Affirmative Action Loan Scheme Farm acquisition from 1992 to 2018, only 10 percent (64 out of 648) of the farms were purchased by females.
These statistics are reported in the ‘Namibia Land Statistics 2018’ report produced by the Namibia Statistics Agency.
The shocking figures confirm the need for an urgent call for policies within the country’s land reform system to be tailored in a way that supports women to put them on par with their male counterparts, when it comes to land acquisition.
A total 6.4 million hectares of  land were acquired through the Agricultural Bank of Namibia during 1992 – 2018. Of this, 3.4 million hectares or 54 percent of commercial farmland were acquired through the Affirmative Action Loan Scheme Programme, while commercial banks funded 2.8 million hectares totalling 46 percent.
Only 10 percent of females benefited through the AALS programme, compared to 60 percent males. The remaining 30 percent is taken up by partnerships described as Male and Female.
Agribank CEO Sakaria Nghikembua said the trend of men, rather than women seeking land is a human phenomenon.
“In general, there are more men than women looking for financing to acquire farmland but it is difficult to state why it is so, except perhaps for history and our culture.
“From our perspective, the trends indicate that more needs to be done from respective institutions in society to encourage and facilitate a higher level of participation in commercial agriculture by women,” states Nghikembua.
Although women grow up to 70 percent of Africa’s food, only less than 20 percent own the land on which they work.
Further exacerbated by customary laws which also discriminate against women farmers have to access land either through their husbands or sons.
Newly established farmers union Previously Disadvantaged Namibian Farmers Union (PNF) Chairperson Rimunee Kahunga said farming in general is a tough trade for women hence the lack of interest. The bottleneck as far as the financial sector’s criteria is concerned, presents another challenge to women and upcoming farmers.
“One of the requirements to get that loan is that you must have 150 heads of livestock. This is too much for women who in the first place do not have a footprint in farming because everything is done by their husbands.
But the numbers also show how women are discriminated in society.
They always have to go through their husbands to own land, and it is never in their name. So we need to advance policies that attract women in farming,” said Kahunga.
This week, during the ongoing second national land conference, presentations revealed that only 23 percent of women own commercial land. This is despite the resolution of the 1991 first land conference that stipulated that women should have the right to own land and right to inherit it, namely Resolution 17. In terms of communal land, women own a mere 28 percent. These figures were revealed in a presentation by the Land Reform ministry.
There are two main agricultural land acquisition programmes funded by Agribank.
The first programme is the AALS which was initiated in 1992 to supplement government’s land reform programme. The second is the recording of private acquisition of commercial farmland through commercial banks.
A total of 882 farms were acquired through Agribank in eight regions of the country since 1992. The regions are Erongo, Hardap, //Kharas, Omaheke, Otjozondjupa, Oshikoto, Kunene and Khomas.
The extent in hectares covered by these farms is 6 261 090. Out of this, 3 407 368 hectares were acquired through the AALS.

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