namibiaIn most developing countries, agricultural extension services are managed by the public sector or state. The public sector in Namibia is represented by the government through the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry (MAWF). The role of non-state agents including private sector firms, NGOs and other Donors is limited in scope and the bulk of extension service is provided by public sector (Kumba, 2003). According to Thomas et al. (2011), the Namibian agricultural sector has, broadly, a dual system comprising a well-developed, capital intensive and export oriented commercial sub-sector and subsistence based communal farming sub-sector, low in technology and external inputs and highly labor intensive. Both sectors contribute to the achievement of the country's national agricultural development goals that include: The long term Vision 2030, the Millennium Challenge Account (or Millennium goals) and the short term National Development Plan (NDP). Agricultural development hinges on the proper use of information and agricultural extension services (a vital component of rural development) are at the center of cooperation amongst farmers, researchers, farmer organizations and community developers (Kaurivi, 2008). The government agricultural extension services mainly provide subsidized agricultural services and the administration of government programs such as drought relief and credit schemes.


A Brief History of Public Extension Policies, Resources and Advisory Activities in Namibia

The primary goal of Namibia agricultural extension services is to help farmers develop and adopt improved farming technologies and practices, organize themselves in cooperatives as well as have access to information (i.e. markets and policies) and infrastructure. To achieve this goal, MAWF created the Directorate of Extension and Engineering Services (DEES) to provide agricultural extension services to farmers, agro-based industries and other stakeholders in the form of information communication, advisory and training services. The government attempt to implement a policy of decentralization aiming at bringing services closer to the farmers has encountered a series of difficulties since in many remote areas, extension offices are the only government offices the people can go to. Many farmers live and farm far away from the Agriculture Development Centers (ADC) making it difficult to be reached by extension agents or for farmers themselves to travel to the ADC for assistance with agricultural advice and services.

MAWF is organized such that research and extension activities are under two separate directorates; The Directorate of Extension and Engineering Services (DEES) and the Directorate of Agricultural Research and Training (DART). These offices are managed by different directors or managers making the research-extension linkage less evident and coordination of programs more difficult (Thomas et al., 2011). The urgent need to connect research and extension to farmers prompted the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Fisheries to develop a strategy to facilitate the flow of information in both directions between research, extension and farmers. In 1997, the Farming System Research and Extension (FSRE) characterized by a holistic, participatory, demand driven, multidisciplinary and problem solving approach was officially adopted as a development strategy. While it is unclear whether the FSRE approach actually lived up to its mandate of bringing researchers, extension specialists and farmers together in the design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of agricultural programs, new strategies have emerged recently to improve collaboration among all actors in the agricultural extension system.

The government commitment to developing an agricultural extension system starts with the development of human capital to deliver agricultural extension services to farmers. Staff development including in-service training is essential for the health of agricultural extension. In-service training for existing staff aims at improving professionalism leading to the greater effectiveness of the service. According to Dolberg (2000), many extension agents who operate at the grass-root levels in Namibia are nonprofessionals with little knowledge about extension work, leave alone participatory approaches. UNAM, Polytechnic of Namibia and other agricultural colleges play an important role in capacity building by offering degrees and diplomas courses in agriculture and other related disciplines.

Extension Providers

Major Institutions Providing Extension/advisory Services

Public Sector

The public sector is represented by the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry (MAWF) with two departments that are made up of eight directorates, the University of Namibia nd other education and research institutions around the country. These institutions provide extension services through various departments councils and institutes some of which are listed below:

Public Extension Institutions

  • Ministry of Agriculture Water and Forestry (MAWF
  • Department of Agricultural and Rural Development (DARD) {qluetip title=[info icon ] }The five directorates of this department are responsible for the following areas:

    1. animal health;
    2. agricultural research and training;
    3. agricultural extension and engineering
    4. planning and policy, and5. administration.{/qluetip}
    • Directorate of Extension and Engineering Services (DAES) {qluetip title=[info icon ] }


      Extension and Engineering Services exists to promote the adoption of improved agricultural technologies and practices in order to increase agricultural production, empower farmers and facilitate sustainable improvement in living conditions of rural communities.

      Main Objectives

      - Provide agricultural extension in the form of communication, advisory and training services.
      - Contribute to the implementation of an effective drought preparedness planning and responsive drought management system
      - Establish a mechanism to regulate and manage irrigation on a national basis
      - Improve the legal environment in order to improve farming production.{/qluetip}

Public Research and Education Institutions

  • National Agricultural Research Institute (NARI)
  • Agricultural Research and Development (ASTI)
    • Directorate of Research and Training (under MAWF and DART)
  • University of Namibia (UNAM)
  • Polytechnic of Namibia 

Semi-Public and Parastatal

The semi-public or Parastatal organizations are government companies and agencies that are directly controlled by government and with no explicit profit making objectives, except stipulated clearly in the Act of their existence. This sector includes the following institutions:

  • Namibian Agronomic Board
  • Meat Board of Namibia
  • Namibia Nature Foundation (NNF)
  • Agribank Namibia
  • Development Bank of Namibia 
  • University of Namibia
  • Polytechnic of Namibia

Private Sector Firms

Private sector is made of agencies whose primary activity is the production of goods and services for profit, although agricultural unions and the others that are involved in agricultural training and research are an exception. Such organizations survive from membershipfees and projects from government and international agencies. They also win consultancy projects and involve in partnership with other agencies as executing bodies (Kaurivi, 2008). The private sector dominates the agribusiness activities in Namibia through retailing, marketing and exporting. The following institutions make up the bulk of research and consultancy from private sector.

  • Namibia National Farmers Union (NNFU)
  • Namibia Agricultural Union (NAU)
  • Namibia Nature Foundation (NNF)
  • Namibia Agricultural Union (NAU)
  • Desert Research Foundation of Namibia (DRFN)
  • AgriFutura

Non-Governmental Organizations and other Donors

NGOs in Namibia have been active in almost all the major development sectors, such as education and training; agriculture and rural development; small and medium enterprises; gender issues; health; housing; relief, and human rights and democracy. A growing number of them have moved from operational, service delivery, to advocacy and capacity building (Republic of Namibia, 2005). In Namibia, as in most developing countries, beside the public sector, few NGOs and agricultural training institutions are also engaged in providing extension service to farmers (Kumba, 2003). A particularly fruitful area of NGO involvement has been in credit unions and rural savings schemes. Organizations such as the Rural People's Institute for Social Empowerment (RISE) and the Namibia Credit Union League have gained considerable experience in supporting local groups to manage and administer group savings and credit programs. Some of the NGOs working in the agricultural sector and local extension services include

  • Desert Research Foundation of Namibia (DRFN)
  • Namibia National Women's Organization (NANAWO)
  • Creative Entrepreneurs Solutions (CES)
  • Self-Help Groups (SHG) A village-based community group
  • AgriFutura
  • Women Action for Development (WAD)
  • Namibia Development Cooperation (NDC)

Farmer Based Organizations and Cooperatives

In Namibia, farmers' Unions are well established in terms of policies and organizational structure. Farmers are represented in two unions; the Namibia Agricultural Union (NAU) and the Namibia National Farmers Union (NNFU). The NAU are unions that represent the interest of farmers whereby the NNFU is an umbrella body for communal farmers. Recently, the two union joint hands with the Office of the President in a big undertaking called the Joint Presidential Commission (JPC) to establish a single institution that will represent all farmers, emerging commercial farmers' support program, land mediation forum and address the human/wildlife conflict (Katjepunda and Kamupingene, 2007). One of the main roles of farmers 'unions is to protect the interest of farmers in policies and market forces. They undertake some level of training of union members especially in the area of marketing and value addition to their produce.

  • Namibia Agricultural Union (NAU)
  • Namibia National Farmers Union (NNFU)
  • Agri­Futura
  • Mashare Agricultural Development Institute (MADI)
  • Sam Nujoma Marine and Coastal Resources Research Centre (SANUMARC)
  • Tsumis Arid Zone Agricultural Centre (TAZAC)

List of Extension Providers

icon target The following list shows an excerpt form the GFRAS Directory of Extension Providers for Namibia. Some of these entries may be specially marked for having more detailed information in the database of the Worldwide Extension Study WWES.

Enabling Environment

Enabling (od Disabling) Environment

The country-wide enabling environment in which extension operates is critical to extension efforts. In Namibia, agricultural research and training is almost entirely in the hands of the public sector. The bulk of the activity is classified as government and semi-government organization that takes more than 90% of the number of organizations involved. The private sector has had a marginal role in the development of extension services in the country. The policy of decentralization has encountered a series of difficulties linked to the lack of infrastructure and proper training for extension personnel. The implementation of a pluralistic agricultural extension system in this type of environment will require a revision of the role of government and possible linkages among all stakeholders. It is not surprising that until recently, government and NGO cooperation was weak and the lack of coordination resulted in duplication and inefficient resource use. Linkages across sectors, within and between regions, and between government and NGOs are helping to improve service provision, and stimulate the exchange of ideas and information. Research and training is spread across many directorates and divisions within the Ministry for the purpose of specialization but this has created poor research and


Information and Communication Technology (ICT) for Agriculture and Extension

In Namibia, Government institutions especially the MAWF, and the farmers union (NAU and NNFU) are the major players in the provision of information for agriculture and rural development. MAWF, through the DEES, plays an enormous role in empowering communities to manage their agricultural resources sustainably. The country boasts with an independent and sophisticated telecom infrastructure and growing adoption of ICT and internet facilities in both the private and public sector (Katjepunda and Kamupingene, 2007). Although no ICT policy for agricultural sector exist at national level, the National Policy on ICT and the Namibia Agricultural Policy are addressing a range of approaches to enhance capacity building in agricultural sector. The strategy focuses on making ICT accessible to all by enhancing rural access to information.

The demand for agricultural information by different stakeholders (farmers, researchers, and decision makers) is very high in Namibia while the information providers face many challenges to satisfy the information needs of the users within the country. Various ICT tools are used to disseminate and communicate agricultural information and rural development issues. For example, 80% of the population has access to radio which could be the appropriate channel of communication for creating and/or enhancing awareness among farmers (Katjepunda and Kamupingene, 2007). DEES and NNFU are using newsletters, leaflets, and pamphlets to convey agricultural information and services to farmers in English and local languages. Namibia is in the process of taking part in the proposed Integrated Agricultural Information Management System (AIMS) for the SADC Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources (FANR) Directorate. AIMS was established as the knowledge-bank of the SADC Secretariat and Member States on Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources to which programs and projects contribute through their information systems. A database within AIMS will constitute both quantitative and qualitative data on all FANR activities (AIMS, 2007).


Training for Extension Professionals

The Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry is the custodian of agricultural research and training while the Ministry of Education is in charge of all national training. The University of Namibia (UNAM), Polytechnic of Namibia (PoN) and other agricultural colleges play an important role in capacity building by offering degrees and diplomas courses in agriculture and other related disciplines. In addition, the University of Namibia provides advisory, consultancy, and extension services throughout the country in order to promote community education that enhances productivity and socio-economic development, while Polytechnic of Namibia provides career and continuing education at the post-secondary level (Kaurivi, 2008). In Namibia many institutions, including the government, offer in-service training to their employees but no professional training in agriculture is taking place within the MAWF. According to Dolberg (2000), many extension agents who operate at the grass-root levels in Namibia are nonprofessionals with little knowledge about extension work, leave alone participatory approaches. There is a need for change in agricultural curricula in agricultural institutions of learning in order to put more emphasis on techniques (participatory technique for example) that will equip extension personnel with appropriate tools o better assist farmers. Fortunately, a practical fieldwork component in the curricula of all agricultural training institutions in Namibia has been put in place for this purpose. This consists of a yearly attachment or internship where students have hands-on experience in field activities during their training (Kaurivi, 2008).


Statistical Indicators

Namibia                                                                                                                      Year

Agricultural land (sq km)



Agricultural land (% of land area)



Arable land (hectares)



Arable land (% of land area)



Arable land (hectares per person)



Fertilizer consumption (per ha of arable land)



Agriculture, value added (% of GDP)



Food production index (1999-2001 = 100)



Food exports (% of merchandise exports)



Food imports (% of merchandise imports)



GNI per capita, Atlas method (current US$)



Literacy rate, adult total (% of people ages 15 and above)*



Literacy rate, youth female (% of females ages 15-24)



Ratio of young literate females to males (% ages 15-24)



Ratio of female to male secondary enrollment (%)



Mobile cellular subscriptions (per 100 people)









Internet users (per 100 people)









Population, total



Population density (people per sq. km of land area)



Rural population



Rural population (% of total population)



Agricultural population* 



Agricultural population (% of total population)*



Total economically active population in Agriculture*



Total economically active population in Agriculture (in % of total economically active population)*



Female economically active population in Agriculture (% of total active in agriculture)*



Source: The World Bank, *Food and Agriculture Organization



AIMS (Agricultural Information Management Systems). 2007.
(accessed on 12 October 2007)

Dolberg, F. (2000). International experience with the farming systems approach. Agri-Views,
Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Rural Development, Windhoek, Namibia, (Fourth Quarter), 6-7.

Republic of Namibia. (2005). Government of the Republic of Namibia Civic Organizations
Partnership Policy of Namibia. Office of the President. National Planning Commission.

Katjepunda, S.K, and G. T. Kamupingene. (2007). Assessment of Agricultural Information Needs in African, Caribbean & Pacific (ACP) States, Southern Africa, Country Study: Namibia. Final Report prepared on behalf of the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA). Project: 4-7-41-209-6/b, November 2007. Retrieved 12-26-11 from 

Kaurivi , J. Z. U. (2008). Implementation and coordination of agricultural research and training (ICART) in the SADC region: Situation Analysis of Agricultural Research and Training in the SADC Region (Namibia). FANR Directorate SADC Secretariat July 2008

Kumba, F. F. (2003). Farmer Participation in Agricultural Research and Extension Service in Namibia. Journal of International Agricultural and Extension Education. Volume 10, Number 3. Retrieved 12/27/11 

Thomas, B., L.M. Lucas, and M.M. Hangula. Government Intervention Programs Through Extension to Improve Agricultural Research and Extension services in Communal Areas of Namibia: A Review. In Towards Improving Agricultural Extension Service Delivery in the SADC Region. Proceedings of the Workshop on Information Sharing among Extension Players in the SADC Region. 26 – 28 July 2010. Dar es Salaam, Tanzania Edited by: Kimaro W.H, Mukandiwa L and Mario E.Z.J. Retrieved on November 1, 2011 from 

IFPRI 2012