Venaani Jureine Katjiua is a Namibian agricultural economist. In this interview, she explains her profession and her function as Business Support Assistant at World Food Programme.
Who is Venaani Jureine Katjiua?
My name is Venaani Jureine Katjiua. I am a young professional with a profound passion for agriculture and the promotion of a sustainable, circular food economy. I am an agricultural economist with over 5 years of experience in Namibia.
What is an agricultural economist?
An agricultural economist is a professional who specializes in applying economic principles and techniques to analyse issues related to agriculture. These experts study and evaluate the economic aspects of agricultural production, distribution, and consumption.Their work often involves assessing the impact of various factors, such as government policies, market conditions, and environmental changes, on the agricultural industry.
What has been your professional path as such?
Specializing in food systems, I have an expertise in optimizing agricultural production, conducting impactful market research, and piloting projects to enhance farmers’ production yields. Currently I’m serving as a Business Support Assistant: Food Systems at the World Food Programme Namibia. I am dedicated to leveraging digital and innovative approaches to enhance smallholder market systems, with a particular focus on empowering indigenous, marginalized, and vulnerable communities, especially women and youth.
In my previous roles, including as an admin and finance consultant for Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit, I have cultivated relationships and fostered enduring partnerships with multinational entities, inter-governmental agencies, development partners, and various stakeholders.
With a diverse professional background, I have served as a Research Assistant at the United Nations World Food Programme, contributing to the development of reports and Theory of Change (ToC) for the ongoing second-generation country strategic plan. My experience also extends to impactful roles at institutions like Dundee Precious Metals Tsumeb Community Trust Projects and Avagro-Sustainable Agricultural Solutions, a commercial farm specializing in greenhouse hydroponics.
To what extent is your work useful to farmers and smallholder farmers?
As a Programme Business Support Assistant, I contribute to enhancing agricultural practices and supporting the specific needs of vulnerable communities, including women, youth, and marginalized indigenous groups.
I play a crucial role in ensuring that initiatives are completed both timely and within budget. This, in turn, directly benefits farmers by providing them with the necessary resources, knowledge, and support to improve their agricultural productivity.
By addressing the unique challenges faced by women, youth, and marginalized communities, the projects aim to create a more inclusive and sustainable agricultural landscape, fostering increased production and economic empowerment for smallholder farmers bearing in mind climate change, adaptation and mitigation strategies.
What are the main challenges faced by agricultural economists?
Limited data availabilityis one of the problems faced by agricultural economists. The access to comprehensive and up-to-date agricultural data can be a significant challenge, limiting the accuracy of economic analyses. In such cases, the potential solution is collaborating with relevant agencies, leveraging technology for data collection, and advocating for improved data infrastructure.
Agricultural economists also often deal with the volatility of agricultural markets, influenced by factors like weather conditions, global trade policies, and commodity prices. To counter this challenge, they might implement risk management strategies, conduct scenario analyses, and stay informed about market trends to make informed predictions.
Finally, climate change and other environmental factors can significantly impact agricultural productivity and economics. The solution lies in integrating environmental considerations into economic models, advising on sustainable practices, and contributing to policy discussions on climate resilience.
Recently, you have joined the inaugural Climate Tech Innovators and Leaders program at the Yali Regional Leadership Center West Africa. How was it?
Participating in the Climate Tech Innovators and Leaders Programme, specifically in the public policy track, has been an enlightening and transformative experience. The program focused on equipping young African leaders to become advocates and initiators of pro-climate policies. One key takeaway was the importance of incorporating indigenous knowledge into climate policies through consultation with local communities. The program also underscored the potential of technology for social good and the need for a long-term vision in driving sustained impacts. Recognizing the role of youth as catalysts for climate action, it emphasized the importance of meaningful youth involvement in tech conversations. Engaging in coaching sessions highlighted the transformative power of mentorship, which will continue to shape my growth as a leader in the climate tech field. Overall, the program showcased the incredible solutions young people are implementing globally, such as regenerative agriculture and vermicomposting, and the potential for collaborative efforts across borders.
What are your future ambitions as agricultural economist?
Honestly, I am committed to staying on my current trajectory as it aligns with my passion for making a positive impact. Working in the NGO/Developmental sector allows me to reach communities that have been underserved for various reasons. I believe in collective progress and extend my hands to the communities I serve, aiming to journey together towards positive change.
Interviewed by Danielle Engolo