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Abstract

In Namibia historically high levels of support to the commercial farm sector have been reduced in recent years in line with general market liberalisation trends. However some support remains. At the same time more attention has been paid to supporting the previously neglected communal sector. The avowed aim of politicians is to ensure that grain producers in Namibia operate “on a level playing field”. This paper examines to what extent the policy support playing field has been levelled for all major types of grain producer in Namibia. A methodology is introduced for developing a common measure of the effects of price support across grain producers with subsistence and commercial objectives and across scales of operation ranging from 1 hectare to 300 hectares under grain crops. The finding show that the bulk of grain producers in Namibia, who farm most of the grain area, remain seriously disadvantaged compared to the fewer, larger farms. Ongoing discussions on outsourcing government support services to small farmers is likely to result in the playing field becoming more uneven and other compensating measures will need to be taken if politicians and decision makers are serious about “evening the playing field for all”.

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