President Nujoma led his nation to independence over a 30-year period. Now, as its democratically elected president, he is leading it to reconciliation and rapid progress in the rural areas.
Since Namibia's independence in 1990, President Nujoma's government has placed the highest importance on agriculture and rural development, as well as on the well-being of its citizens. President Nujoma has crisscrossed the countryside to encourage farmers to plant, use improved seeds, apply fertilizers and bring more land into cultivation. Within two years, Namibia increased maize production by 50 percent and millet production by 75 percent. Major irrigation projects are under way, designed to meet Namibia's food needs and produce surplus food for export.
Namibia has raised expenditures in the health and education sectors to 30 percent of its budget, one of the highest levels in Africa. The nation has dramatically improved school attendance and child health care, particularly among the black population.
On the contentious issue of land reform to address the inequities between black and white farmers, President Nujoma has pursued a policy of consensus building. This year he has succeeded in passing a land reform law that draws on that consensus and seeks to redress glaring inequities while maintaining harmony among Namibia’s people.
President Nujoma's passion for rural upliftment has been lifelong. Born to a farming family, and involved in producing food from the age of five, he carried issues of household food security into the liberation struggle, urging freedom fighters to grow their own food, and establishing training programs for refugees in exile in Angola and Zambia so that the new nation would have agricultural experts ready for its revitalization.