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Agricultural sector needs more than great grapes

2020-12-03  Edgar Brandt

Agricultural sector needs more than great grapes

Phenomenal growth in the Namibian grape sector during the last few years will not be enough to make up for the under-performance of the country’s livestock sector. Fresh grapes exports for Namibia continue to increase (N$840 million for 2019), owing to favourable climactic conditions on the country’s southern border but a recent Agribank report advises diversification into other crops, new and emerging industries, such as biomass, as well as poultry farming and processing.   
In her report, she stated that good rain received in 2020 has restored hope in the agricultural sector – and as such, Namibian table grape producers expect a bumper harvest in 2020. “The country expects to export about 7.4 million cartons, compared to 6 million exported in the prior year,” reads the report.   
This is according to a Market Watch compiled by Agribank’s Senior Research and Product Development Officer Indileni Nanghonga. 

Nanghonga notes that while Namibian economy is expected to rebound by 2.2% in 2021, the resurgence of the pandemic and the fears of reverting to another lockdown could prolong adverse conditions. 
“The promotion of the women and youth loan scheme could change inclusion demographics, promote productivity, innovation, equality and reduce poverty in the Namibian economy over the medium to long-term,” Nanghonga advised. 
For the agricultural sector to increase output, it has to invest in new and emerging industries – and this calls for innovation financing. The Agribank report notes that a recent agricultural conference, under the theme: “Maximising Agricultural Potential for Namibia’s Development”, emphasised tackling current challenges faced by the sector through the deployment of technology and modern agricultural methods in the context of smart agriculture.

“Agribank stressed that innovative financing is directed by innovative, bankable business ideas whilst improving the infrastructure, such as roads and utilities to ease the challenges of doing business. In addition, Agribank launched the women and youth loan scheme that aims at financial inclusion by relaxing the collateral requirements,” the report reads.    

Agri-subsectors 

Cattle
AgriBank’s Market notes that although 2020 continues to depict weak performance, compared to the previous year, there has been a modest improvement in the weaners’ price post lockdown in April 2020. 
“Although the number of cattle marketed declined by 49.5% ytd (year-to-date), the decline in the number of cattle slaughtered was not broad-based as the N-VCF recorded an uptick of 50.3% ytd to 1231. The success of Katima Abattoir could further spur slaughtering activities that side of the red line”.    
 
Small stock 
Total small stock marketed declined by 23.9% to 21 000 in September 2020 and dropped by 59% ytd. Similarly, the number of slaughtered small stock declined by 59% to 102 000 ytd. 
“Apart from the low marketing as a result of the drought, the closure of the Mariental abattoir aggravated the issue. The drastic increase in the price for sheep can be attributed to low supply of these animals in the market. Successful re-stocking by farmers will require a financial and business strategy restructuring”.  
 
Swakara 
The report notes that while cross-border trading has slowly been restored, a challenging consumer and business environment remains. “The pelts market is highly dependent on the recovery of international market demands, which has been proven low due to the pandemic. 
“As a result, the volume of pelts traded declined by 78% to 12 000 in 2020, compared to a 16% decline to 54 000 in the prior year. The price remained relatively strong, declining only by 24% during the prior under review. The second Covid-19 wave and the re-birth of lockdown measures could aggravate the performance of the Swakara market”.  


2020-12-03  Edgar Brandt

Tags: Khomas
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