Namibia by nature is an arid dry country. According to the worldometer elaboration of the latest United Nations data, 2020, the country’s population stands at 2 546 249. The population density in Namibia is 3 per square kilometre. The total land area is 823 290 square kilometres. Although the country is blessed with vast land, it is still faced with food scarcity. This can be blamed on lack of delivery of land to citizens, inadequate capacity to produce due to lack of capital equipment, and tight bureaucratic barriers such as the cordon line that separates northern Namibia from its southern part, just to mention a few.
Namibia mainly depends on South Africa’s market for dairy products among many consumable products. This can be observed through the products available on the shelves of retail shops.
Since Namibia’s President Hage Geingob declared a state of emergency with effect from March 17 after the country registered two positive coronavirus cases, a food crisis has been felt by local shoppers. The price of goods escalated sharply although retail managements have been preaching that consumers should not panic since they had enough stock, which is unbelievable according to their pricing of goods.
The country had also suspended inbound and outbound travel to and from Qatar, Ethiopia and Germany for 30 days. They had also banned all large gatherings and closed all schools for 30 days.
As the Covid-19 pandemic continues to take its toll, many countries have closed their borders, with essential services only excluded by this policy. Namibian and South African truck drivers have kept on delivering goods during this pandemic era, although it is now happening at a new slow pace. The Namibian local market has been faced with shortage of goods including food due to closed borders, due to its dependency on imports.
In July 2020, one of Walvis Bay’s neglected informal settlements, Twaloloka, which translates to ‘we are tired’, burned down and left the informal settlers in a deplorable situation. Many sympathizers have donated blankets and food among many items to the affected community. Although donations of varying kind were handed to those affected, by citizens who took their plight to heart, only the people from the north of the cordon line managed to donate a lot of agricultural products such as melons and mahangu.
The northern part of Namibia is where you find communal farmers, while south of the cordon line there are commercial farmers. Though the northern farmers produce adequate products they still have no market for their goods despite food scarcity in the Namibian local market.
This is an indirect message to the Namibian policymakers and all stakeholders involved to get back to the drawing board and start supporting local products from all sides of the country. That is the only way we can mitigate the dependency syndrome of importing what the country can produce.