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Agriculture Minister device plan to mitigate impact of Covid-19 on sector

With U.S. cattle herds at their lowest levels since the 1950s and corn feed prices on the rise, beef prices are on the rise.

To mitigate the impact of the Covid-19 on the agricultural sector, Agricultural Minister Calle Schlettwein has requested a 100 per cent land tax relief for the fiscal year 2019/2020.

“As part of relief measures due to the Covid-19 pandemic, I recommend waiving the payment of land tax by 100% for all farmers in respect of the 2019/2020 financial year to mitigate the effects of the pandemic. This will enable the agricultural sector to recover in the medium- to long-term,” he explained in parliament while motivating the proposed new land tax rate on commercial land for approval by the august house.

Cognisant of the socio-economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the economy and livelihoods, in particular, Schlettwein said the ministry, as the administrator of land tax on commercial agricultural land, thought it imperative to waive the collection of this tax to ameliorate the strife experienced by farmers during the lockdown period.

He noted farmers were not able to market their livestock or produce domestically and closed borders imposed on their ability to generate revenue through traditional export markets.

“In accordance with the Act, concurrence for 100% tax relief for agricultural commercial farm owners has been received from the minister responsible for finance,” said the minister.

According to the Bank of Namibia (BoN) quarterly report released last month, the total number of cattle marketed declined year-on-year by 9.5% to 51 744 heads during the second quarter of 2021.

The decline was reflected in the number of cattle slaughtered for local consumption as well as for export, which declined by 46.5% and 31%, respectively, to 5 275 heads and 14 436 heads during the quarter under review.

This was due to restocking activity by farmers, following a significant reduction in herds, ascribed to the devastating drought experienced in previous years.