Food and Nutrition Security and the Agriculture sector

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Food and Nutrition Security and the Agriculture sector

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  1. Namibia is an arid country in south-western Africa with a total land area of 824 268 km2. The country consists of poorly vegetated steppe-like areas dominant in southern and western regions, the Namib Desert in the west along the Atlantic Ocean, the Kalahari Desert in the southeast, extensive savannah and woodlands in the central and north-eastern areas, and subtropical forests in the far north-eastern regions.
    Five perennial rivers are found along the borders with neighbouring countries; all other rivers are peripheral. Average annual rainfall varies from less than 20 mm on the Atlantic coast to 600 mm in the northeast. Only eight percent of the country receives more than 500 mm in average annually. Most rain falls during the summer and drought is a common phenomenon throughout the country. Low and variable rainfall and the inherently poor soils are major obstacles to optimum agriculture production.
    Despite its marginal contribution to Gross Domestic Product (GDP), the agriculture sector remains central to the lives of the majority of the population. Directly or indirectly, it supports over 70 percent of the country’s population. The sector can be divided into two distinct sub-sectors: the capital intensive, relatively well developed and export oriented commercial sub-sector; and the subsistence-based, high-labour, low-technology communal sub-sector.
    The commercial sector covers about 44 per cent of the total land, though it accommodates only 10 per cent of the population, while the communal sector covers 41 per cent of the total land area and accommodates about 60 per cent of the population. Agricultural production – and subsequently income – is low in the subsistence sector for a number of reasons, including limited access to markets.

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