Albertina Nakale Windhoek-Namibians have a huge appetite for potatoes, but they seem to prefer buying pre-washed potatoes, so much so that the local irrigation schemes and farms are unable to produce even half of the 26,706 tons of potatoes consumed on an annual basis. According to the latest figures by the Namibian Agronomic Board, during the 2015/16 financial year Namibia only produced 7,055 tons of potatoes of the 26,706 tons the country consumes on an annual basis. The rest, or 74 percent of local consumption, was imported into the country. The figures refer to potatoes sold in the formal markets. Interestingly though the country did well when comes to the production of onions, producing nearly 70 percent of total consumption, and exporting a significant tonnage of the edible bulb. However, the report notes that for a country where the horticultural market value is at N$678 million, the industry must work harder to reduce its reliance on imported horticultural products. In 2015/16 Namibia produced horticultural produce worth N$174 million, while importing horticultural produce worth N$504 million. On the production of potatoes the agronomic board notes there is a demand for washed potatoes “which constitutes a large percentage” of local consumption. For instance in the year under review, an additional 3,213 tons of brushed potatoes were exported between June and September, as there was an oversupply of brushed potatoes in the local market, while the demand for washed potatoes was not satisfied. To satisfy Namibians’ hunger for washed potatoes, the report suggests that “to stimulate additional demand for local produce, the industry needs to invest in washing equipment, so that more washed potatoes are available during the year, instead of unwashed or brushed potatoes only”. Namibia produces potatoes in the season that begins after the last frost, which is typically from August. This is because potatoes are sensitive to frost and excessive heat. According to the agronomic board it had to close Namibian borders in the months between June and December 2015, to protect locally produced onions. As a result, the country only imported 39 percent, or 2,939 tons, of the country’s annual total consumption of 10,000 tons of onions. These restrictions resulted in an increase of 140 percent in local marketing of 7,567 tons of onions, compared to 3,149 tons in the 2010/11 financial year. It also meant that the country was able to export 9,288 tons of onions in the period between June and November 2015 when the local market was oversupplied with onions. Meanwhile, the agronomic board says that the drought has affected the horticulture sector as well, with a reported decrease of 8 percent in the actual, local tonnage marketed to the formal trade. In the 2015/16 financial year the country imported 49,859 tons of horticultural produce, which is 7 percent more than what it did the previous year. The locally produced horticulture produce decreased by 8 percent to 23,579 tons. “These figures show the negative effect of the drought and heat experienced in Namibia,” states the report. The reduction is due to the fact that some producers reduced production as a result of a lack of water resources, while seed germination and pollution challenges were experienced due to high air temperatures, and low humidity caused decreases in yield and poor quality fruit. All horticulture products are controlled products as gazetted in accordance with section 2 of the Agronomic Industry Act of 1992. The agronomic board regulates the horticulture industry through the market share promotion scheme, which is implemented by Agro Marketing and Trading Agency.
New Era Reporter
2017-10-19 08:50:03 1 years ago