Danish Coop Believes Namibian Farmers Have Bright Future

11 Feb 2015

dsc_8826In future Namibia has the potential to be amongst the major global players in terms of food production since the country has many opportunities when it comes to agriculture and cattle production. This is complimented by the passion, energy and courage displayed by farmers and their production systems, in both communal and commercial set-ups.

This statement was made a Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of a major cooperative in Denmark who recently visited Namibia on a trip facilitated by Meatco.

Benedikte Kaalund is the CEO of the Danish Coop, a leading retailer with about 1 200 supermarkets, hypermarkets, and discount stores throughout that country. The Danish retailer boasts a 38% market share and continues to grow. It is owned by the cooperative FDB (Fællesforeningen For Danmarks Brugsforeninger) which comprises 1.7 million members of the Danish Consumers’ Cooperative Society.

The Danish Coop is a major supporter of Meatco’s developmental initiatives in the rural areas by way of the Meatco Foundation.

With a delegation of 14 other members from the Danish Coop, Benedikte recently visited both commercial and communal farmers in various areas of the country.

“I think Namibia is a land of opportunities. When we visited local farmers, we witnessed the special kind of energy and passion they put into their production. If maintained, that kind of energy and passion will take Namibia very far in terms of food production. If you have that, you can develop, produce and create a future that is wonderful. We have lost that kind of passion and energy in Europe,” she said.

The South African economist Dawie Roodt made the same observation during the Livestock Producers Organisation Outlook Conference last year.

“Namibia is an emerging economy and now more than ever, a multitude of opportunities exist for local producers to operate more profitable businesses. Farming is not a primary industry anymore – it is a modern industry and there’s a wonderful future for farming in the world,” Dawie said at the time.

During their visit to farms in Namibia last week, Benedikte said she was happy to see the “professional way” in which farmers treated their livestock, as well as the professional production systems they operate.

However, she was quick to point to the gap that exists between communal and commercial farmers, and encouraged collaboration.

“Bigger commercial farmers should reach out to small-scale farmers in the communal areas. There’s a need for skills transfer from commercial farmers to communal farmers. There’s need for working together,” she said.

Carsten Lingren, another delegate from the Danish Coop, agrees with Benedikte.

“I particularly like the environment which Namibian farmers create to operate their production systems and the way they accept each other. There is however a need for them to collaborate more. There is a huge future in farming in the country but it requires some reflection on the direction the country wants to take. Furthermore, if Namibia could export more beef, it would improve your economy,” he said.

Benedikte said it will take time to get to the point where Namibia is actively a major global food supplier, but “it can be done”.

“The assumption is right that Namibia has the potential to produce food for the world in future. I see the passion, courage and future vision. I have travelled to other parts of the world and people are not normally as committed and driven as what I have seen in Namibia. Namibia’s future is big,” she said.

At last year’s conference Dawie said that Namibian producers are in a fortunate position to implement strategies and start up agriculture-based businesses that will ensure that the global demand for agricultural produce in the coming decade is catered for.