• September 23rd, 2019

Agronomic producers push for rain-fed surplus grain



Deon Schlechter

WINDHOEK -  In light of the reality that many communal and commercial crop producers are once again likely to be confronted with crop failures, the Namibian Agronomic Board (NAB) is pushing  that the Harambee Rain-fed Surplus Grain Production Programme gets out of the blocks as soon as possible. 

The request came during the first management meeting of the Agronomic Producers’ Association (APA) where discussions on urgent matters of interest to agronomic matters took place. The NAB inspired programme involves a coupon system (covered by the state) for producers to purchase seeds and fertilisers under certain critical and abnormal circumstances. The APA management believes that this programme will ensure food security for Namibia for at least  a certain extent. The APA also identified possible projects, such as alternative crops, irrigation as well as information days that are important to the industry and which fall within the strategic plan of the agricultural ministry.

Planning has already started for the APA Members’ Meeting on April 17, coinciding with the Master Agronomist Day. Nominations for a master agronomist have already been received and evaluation will take place this week. The new legislation on seed, which caused a major headache for seed importers and halted planting, was also discussed and NAB representatives indicated that they were in urgent discussions with the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry (MAWF) to obtain a grace period first. The persistent drought will have harsh effects on agriculture this year, with unpredictable total losses.

The 76 660 tonnes of white maize from last season’s harvest, represent 60 percent of the total local domestic demand of 127 143 tonnes, meaning Namibia will have to import 50 483 tonnes of white maize (40 percent of domestic demand this year. But hopes for this year’s total cereal harvest are dwindling fast as the dry conditions have already impacted significantly on crops, pasture and water availability in most regions. The drought is affecting all regions of the country, including six regions where a large proportion of households depend on livestock production, and six regions where a large proportion of the population depends on rain-fed crop production.

The total domestic demand for mahangu (pearl millet) is 5 813 tonnes per annum and production marketed this year comes to 2 344 tonnes (40 percent of domestic demand), which is also the highest ever in the last eight years. Namibia will thus have to import 3 469 tonnes (60     percent) of mahangu and this situation also begs for opportunities to increase production. Pearl millet production in Namibia is 90 percent under rain-fed conditions, thus the reason why the local production marketed in too low and fluctuates over the seasons. It is mainly produced by small-scale producers in the NCAs, Kavango and Zambezi.

The total domestic demand for horticulture products is 81 452 tonnes per annum of which Namibia will produce 28 599 tonnes (35 percent) this year.  The country will have to import 52 853 tonnes (65 percent). 

The total domestic demand is N$642 million of which N$221 million (34 percent) comes from local production. Production marketed locally increased from merely N$95 000 in 2011/2012 to N$221 million in 2017/2018.
The total domestic demand for the top 10 vegetables is 20 332 tonnes per annum and of that, Namibia only contributes 730 tonnes (four percent) and thus has to import 19 602 tonnes.
 


New Era Reporter
2019-02-19 10:56:04 7 months ago

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