AMTA opens mahangu stores

10 June 2019 | Agriculture

Inhabitants of Oshana, Ohangwena, Omusati and Oshikoto will get locally produced mahangu as part of the government's drought relief programme.

The Agro-Marketing and Trading Agency (AMTA) has opened its mahangu stores at Okongo to provide drought aid.

The Office of the Prime Minister has requested AMTA to release 300 tonnes of mahangu to be distributed in the four north-central regions.

According to Stephen Iimbili of AMTA's national strategic food reserve division, the agency is packing the grain into 20-kg bags that will be transported to the regions by the Namibia Defence Force.

Iimbili said the process was going well and there is a good relationship with regional councils.

“We have contracted casual workers to help us package and load 14 594 bags. By looking at the current request of just 300 tonnes, the silos can still feed the nation for a longer. For the current request, Ohangwena is getting 3 314 bags, Omusati 2 898, Oshana 4 600 and Oshikoto is getting 3 782 bags,” he said.

The ministry of agriculture, water and forestry, through AMTA, buys mahangu and maize from local producers and stores it at silos managed by AMTA.

The ministry has silos for mahangu and maize at Tsandi, Okongo, Omuthiya, Rundu and Katima Mulilo.

According to Iimbili, mahangu is stored at Okongo, while Tsandi, Rundu and Katima Mulilo store maize only and Omuthiya stores both.

“At the silos we do grain inspection once a week to control them. We do temperature monitoring, grain rotation and aeration to make sure that grain is kept healthier for a longer period. It is the government that decides what grains can be used for, either for drought use or to be sold to millers,” Iimbili said.

AMTA buys grains from farmers in the Oshikoto, Oshana, Omusati Kavango East, Kavango West, Zambezi, Ohangwena and Otjozondjupa regions.

As of February this year, AMTA had purchased 508 tonnes of surplus mahangu to the value of about N$2.5 million from the 2018 harvest, which Iimbili said is not part of the stockpile at Okongo.

Because of the drought and consequent crop failure, the government is not expecting to procure any mahangu from the 2019 harvest.

Restrictions on imports of white maize and mahangu, also known as pearl millet, were lifted this month. The Namibian Agronomic Board (NAB) notified mahangu processors that there had been an insufficient supply of locally produced mahangu since the beginning of May.

Mahangu is a rain-fed cereal crop which is the major staple food for over half of the Namibian population.

ILENI NANDJATO

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