Farmers still have opportunities for growth

Namibia imports an estimated 85% of its fruit and vegetables from South Africa. As local farmers are unable to consistently supply the needed quantities of produce, retailers view them as a risk, Muranda said.

30 March 2021 | Agriculture

ELLANIE SMIT







WINDHOEK

Namibian farmers still have an abundance of opportunities they can exploit to upscale production and substitute imports.

Namibia Agronomic Board statistics indicate that production in the local horticulture industry accounted for N$240.2 million, with total imports being valued at about N$417.6 million and local consumption of horticulture commodities being about N$657 million during the 2018/2019 financial year.

During the 2019/2020 financial year, about 28 887 tonnes of white maize were produced locally, whereas 171 031 tonnes were imported from other countries. The total local consumption of white maize as a staple food stood at about 199 918 tonnes.

“These statistics indicate an opportunity for local producers to upscale production, substitute imports and contribute to the local economy,” said Rino Muranda, Agribank’s manager of marketing and commutations.

Muranda said Namibia imports an estimated 85% of its fruit and vegetables from South Africa.

He said one aspect that should be understood is that because local farmers are unable to consistently supply the needed quantities of produce, retailers view them as a risk.

“If farmers are organised into production groups that supply the right amounts of the demanded commodities in a consistent manner, retailers may be in a position to reduce the costs they incur to import and transport these commodities from South Africa.”

High-demand crops

He added that farmers can focus their production on crops that are in high demand.

“Good examples would be producing potatoes, peppers, cucumbers and crops such as garlic and ginger that have seen increased consumption rates due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.”

Muranda said as more people become involved in primary production, many farmers struggle with obtaining the necessary inputs. Fertiliser, seed, herbicides, pesticides and irrigation systems are some of the basic inputs needed by those involved in primary crop production.

“In some instances, farmers travel long distances to purchase these inputs. It would be of vital importance to bring this critical service to the proximity of farmers.”

Another opportunity farmers can grab is fodder production.

According to Muranda, many livestock farmers in Namibia rely heavily on feed supplements imported from South Africa.

He said during the dry season, livestock farmers spend about N$367.95 per 50 kg bag on lick supplements.

Lucerne and grass

“This presents an opportunity for farmers to grow lucerne and grass during this period, as a lot of livestock farmers would be willing to spend about N$147.95 per 22 kg bale of green grass or lucerne.”

Furthermore, Muranda said mechanised agriculture is still a major problem in Namibia’s most remote and rural areas.

On average, one tractor can serve about 3 000 farmers or more in each constituency. He said this is an opportunity that would offer income to someone who focuses on rendering ploughing services.

“One can be financed by Agribank to purchase tractors and their implements to render ploughing services to many small-scale farmers,” he advised.

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