Saturday, June 13, 2015

Tobacco Is Bad for Food Security

Namibia imports over 60% of required food items from South Africa and this makes Namibia a net food importer. The local food supply/the country's capacity to feed its population is deficient, because of inadequate investment in agriculture and lack of land provided for agricultural production.

Namibia’s health minister Dr. Bernhard Haufiku criticized theplanned tobacco plantation in the Zambezi Region, in the process calling on all health conscious Namibians to join the fight against it. The tobacco plantation project is being fronted by Swapo Party big shot Armas Amukwiyu and his Chinese partners through their company Namibia Oriental Tobacco cc. The company applied for 10 000 hectares in the Zambezi Region to grow tobacco and maize already. Amukwiyu is a close associate of President Dr. Hage Geingob, a relationship which could further boost his chances to get the land.

Villagers in the area expressed concern over the tobacco project saying the plantation will curtail the grazing land for their livestock.

Suspended Swapo youth leader Job Amupanda, together with George Kambala and Dimbulukeni Nauyoma, who started the Affirmative Repositioning movement which seeks to help address the land issue in the country, objected to the land being used for tobacco production.

In their objection, the trio said: “In 2005 the Namibian National Assembly unanimously ratified the World Health Organisation Framework Convention for tobacco control whose objectives include protecting present and future generations from the devastating health, social, environmental and economic consequences of tobacco consumption.”  They further said Namibia has a serious food problem. “It is our submission that to allocate more land for tobacco than for food is a deviation from the policy direction taken by the Namibian government through its ministry of agriculture, which leans towards eradicating the country's capacity to provide established food security and adequate levels of nutrition.” 
The three also objected the allocation of land to foreigners. Amupanda said: “It cannot be correct that our most fertile land is used to produce drugs and not food.”

He said it is also alarming that government is distributing land to foreigners even in villages, adding “that tobacco contains nicotine, correlated with a dangerous condition called schizophrenia”.  Amupanda said although government speaks of banning foreign ownership, “politicians are awarding land to foreigners under the table”. “We take this principled action on realising that our country is speedily and scandalously being sold while the future generation is tricked into singing songs and clapping hands, waiting for a fictional year called '2030' where all our problems will apparently be solved; probably by ghosts only known to the political elite,” he concluded. 

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