Land reform will only work if farms are used productively

Niël Terblanche

In the wake of heated discussions surrounding land tax in Namibia, the Namibia Agricultural Union (NAU) has come forward to clarify its stance on land reform and the importance of a fair and productive agricultural land use policy.
With recent debates ignited by articles in local newspapers, the NAU seeks to address the emotional public responses and outline its position on ensuring a successful land reform process in the country.
Acknowledging the historical inequalities in commercial agricultural land ownership at the time of Namibia’s independence, the NAU has been an active participant in the formulation of the government’s land reform policy.
The union has long advocated for a fair, orderly land reform process that includes fair and affordable land taxation.
The organization supports the exemption granted to previously disadvantaged individuals, recognizing that land tax is a vital mechanism for landowners to contribute financially to land distribution systematically and peacefully.
However, the NAU raises concerns over the administration of land taxes, which has led to farmers facing the burden of settling four years’ worth of taxes in 2024.
This situation, especially during periods of drought, significantly impacts farmers’ profitability.
Despite these challenges, the NAU maintains that the current land tax values are fair and just, provided they do not undermine the productivity and sustainability of farming operations.
Central to the NAU’s message is the principle that successful land reform depends on the productive and sustainable use of redistributed land.
The organization stresses that for land reform to truly benefit the country, it must contribute to the national gross domestic product (GDP), ensuring self-sustainability, food security, and job creation.
The NAU continues to engage in negotiations with the government to find mutually beneficial solutions that support the agricultural sector’s growth and sustainability.
Farmers have shown their willingness to support land reform initiatives by offering their land for redistribution.
The NAU urges the government to ensure that such land remains productive, aligning with the broader goals of national development and prosperity.
As discussions on land reform and land tax continue, the NAU remains committed to advocating for policies that promote the productive use of agricultural land.
The union believes that a collaborative approach, involving all stakeholders, is essential to achieving a successful land reform process that benefits the entire country.

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