Namibia's inaugural Agriculture Joint Sector Review (JSR) validation meeting in Windhoek celebrated agricultural achievements while identifying potential avenues for growth and collaboration.
Hosted by the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Land Reform (MAWLR) in partnership with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) through the European Union-funded project "Support Towards the Operationalization of the SADC Regional Agricultural Policy" (STOSAR), the JSR provided a platform for a diverse group of stakeholders to reflect on Namibia's agricultural journey and envision a path towards sustainable development.
JSRs are essential tools for transitioning to evidence-based policy planning and implementation, offering an effective platform to review policy effectiveness, measure sector outcomes, and ensure accountability among state and non-state stakeholders.
Speaking at the official opening of the validation meeting, Qingyun Diao, the FAO Representative in Namibia said, “The review is particularly important for Namibia because it will help the country to assess its progress towards the Malabo Declaration Commitments, which are a set of targets that African Union (AU) member states have agreed to achieve by 2025. The Malabo Commitments include halving poverty, doubling agricultural productivity, and ending hunger and malnutrition.”
The key findings of the JSR review carried out by Thinah Moyo, a FAO Consultant, also evaluated the progress made in implementing the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) and reaching CAADP and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan (RISDP) targets.
In a speech by Ndiyakupi Nghituwamata, the Executive Director of the MAWLR, read on her behalf by Clemens Khaiseb, the MAWLR Acting Director of the Directorate of Agricultural Research and Development, commended the JSR process saying, “The JSR is a comprehensive assessment for the review of specific sectors that involve collaboration among various stakeholders, including government agencies, development partners, civil society organizations, and other relevant actors. As such, this makes this JSR an integral part of the transition to evidence-based policy planning and implementation.”
Major gaps uncovered
Key highlights of Namibia's inaugural JSR assessment findings revealed a notable improvement in the quality of sector assessments, however, still with sizeable gaps. These findings included data and information gaps in agricultural sector assessments which require adequate time and resources.
The JSR assessment also revealed weak coordination among ministries, the private sector, and development agencies in implementing agriculture policies in Namibia. Despite significant agricultural efforts, the lack of effective coordination led to gaps in communication, policy enforcement, and centralized data collection.
To address these issues, recommendations include establishing a centralized data portal through SADC's Agricultural Information Management System (AIMS), forming a dedicated Agricultural Sector Working Group with public and private sector representation, and fostering a formalized system for public-private collaboration in agriculture. Additionally, allocating resources for evidence-based policies, improving coordination, bridging communication gaps, and creating a centralized database are suggested steps.
Key outputs from the validation meeting include reporting templates, sector performance reports, and an action plan to rectify agricultural sector weaknesses. Namibia's consultative approach aims to unlock its agricultural potential and achieve shared goals through inclusive stakeholder participation.
By capitalizing on collaboration and growth opportunities, Namibia is poised to strengthen its agricultural sector, promote sustainable development and to poverty reduction.