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Horticulture shines despite challenges

2018-10-23  Staff Reporter

Horticulture shines despite challenges
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WINDHOEK – Namibia is set to register its highest production of white maize, wheat and mahangu in eight years with a total of 76 660 tonnes of the staple diet of most Namibians coming from home soils this season.

The 76 660 tonnes of white maize represent 60 percent of the total local domestic demand of 127 143 tonnes, meaning Namibia will have to import just 50 483 tonnes of white maize (40 percent of domestic demand this year. 

Chairperson of the Namibian Agronomic Board, Michael Iyambo, says the domestic floor price per tonne increased from N$2 614.00 in 2010/2011 to N$4 730.00 in 2017/2018, representing an increase of N$2 116.00 (81%).  “The highest domestic floor price per tonne recorded was in 2016/2017 (N$5 303.00) due to shortage of maize in international/regional markets caused by drought and deflation of the rand against the US dollar,” he notes.

Iyambo also explains that wheat grain production this year will come to 6 863 tonnes (only four percent of domestic demand), but still the highest ever in the last eight years. He notes that Namibia will have to import 104 244 tonnes (94 percent) of wheat grain. Therefore there is a huge opportunity to increase production. The total domestic demand is 111 107 tonnes per anum.

“Wheat production declined significantly over the years due to high production cost, unfavourable climatic conditions in some production areas and economies of scale,” he observes.  Iyambo points out that the domestic floor price per tonne increased from N$2 699.74 in 2010/2011 to N$5 178.13 in 2017/2018, representing an increase of N$2 478.39 (92 percent). The highest domestic floor price per tonne recorded was in 2017/2018 (N$5 178.13) due to market forces such as low supply and high exchange rates.

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%) 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 domestic floor price per tonne increased from N$2 668.00 in 2010/2011 to N$5 400.00 in 2017/2018, representing an increase of N$2 732.00 (102 percent). The highest domestic floor price per tonne recorded was in 2017/2018 (N$5 400.00) due to increased production cost. The floor price for pearl millet is set based on production cost,” he observes. 
Regarding the horticultural sector, he notes that market share promotion (MSP) increased from 39.5 percent in 2012 to the current 47 percent in 2018, with actual MSP averaging at around 48 percent across the period. Local monetary value increased from merely N$47 million in 2012 to N$90 million in 2018.

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) and once again there are opportunities begging for increased production. Exports increased from 22 429 tonnes in 2011/2012 to 55 358 tonnes in 2017/2018.  Eighty percent of exports is table grapes.

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 thousand in 2011/2012 to N$221 million in 2017/2018.

Namibia has to import N$421 million (66 percent of domestic demand) and there is also an opportunity to increase production. Exports increased from N$438 million in 2011/2012 to N$817 million in 2017/2018. Iyambo says the greatest opportunity for increased local production in terms of the top 11 horticultural products is for potatoes, with 75 percent import and 25 percent local. “Seasonality plays a very big role in local production of the top 11 and hence 100 percent self-sufficiency for top 10 product line is currently difficult to achieve,” he notes.

The total domestic demand for the top ten 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 (94 percent). Another great opportunity to increase local production. He says significant growth has been observed in the agronomy and horticulture industry for the past years due to various development marketing mechanisms aimed at increasing local production. However, more still needs to be done to increase local production of mainly wheat, potatoes and fruits since the current production for local market is below 50 percent and therefore this presents a great opportunity for investment. “The national storage capacity needs to be increased from the current, approximately 50 000 tonnes to at least 150 000 tonnes in order to maintain the quality of local grain and storage of surplus grain. National cold storage facilities must be developed for seasonal surplus products such as onions, watermelon, table grapes, etc. in order to order to ensure consistency of local supply. Agro processing facilities must be developed in order to create employment, while adding value to the raw product for both local and export markets. 

“The sector is faced by a number of challenges such as high production cost, drought, water shortage, pests and disease outbreaks. Apply rules across the industry uniformly, e.g. we will implement MSP holistically in agronomy as done in horticulture as part of market regulations,” he concludes.

2018-10-23  Staff Reporter

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