Silos run empty

07 January 2020 | Agriculture

ELLANIE SMIT

Most government silos stood empty by the end of last November, with stock at only 7.33% of the total holding capacity.

The Agricultural Inputs and Household Food Security Situation Report provided the latest statistics on the national food reserve stock levels in the country as recorded until November 2019.

The records showed that five national food reserves in Namibia, with a collective storage capacity of 22 900 metric tonnes of grain (maize and pearl millet combined), held stock of only 1 679 tonnes.

“Most of the silos are at present empty as the current stock is only 7.33% of the total holding capacity. This consists of about 711.86 tonnes of white maize at Katima Mulilo, Rundu and Tsandi and about 967.32 tonnes of pearl millet at the Okongo silo,” the report says.

At Katima Mulilo, the national silos can accommodate 7 400 tonnes, but by the end of November held only 1 170 tonnes of maize (0.02%).

For Rundu, the national silos can accommodate 4 000 tonnes, but the current stock level is as low as 1.13 tonnes or 0.03% of maize.

The national silos in Omuthiya, which can also hold 4 000 tonnes, had nothing in stock by the end of November.

Tsandi silos, with a storage capacity of 3 000 tonnes, stood at 709.56 tonnes (23.65%) of maize, while Okongo, which can accommodate 4 500 metric tonnes of grain, had 967.32 metric tonnes (21.5%) of pearl millet in stock.

The report however adds that it is important to note that much of the grains which could have been stored in the silos are milled and distributed directly as part of drought relief food assistance by the government.

According to the report, since the start of the 2019/2020 marketing season in May 2019, imports for cereal grains were received to cover the domestic shortfall.

By the end of November 2019, the country imported aggregate cereals of 165 400 tons, consisting of 71 900 tonnes of wheat, 91 500 tonnes of white maize and 2 000 tonnes of pearl millet.

“The imports have also resulted in a surplus of 39 700 tons of wheat. However, there is still an uncovered shortfall for both maize and pearl millet of 34 700 tons and 65 500 tons respectively. The shortfall under normal circumstances is expected to be covered through additional commercial imports in the forms of either flour or grains.”

The report further points out that following the late start of the 2019/2020 rainfall season, cultivation activities were delayed by over a month.

However, most parts of the country received good rainfall at the beginning of December and many farmers have since started with cultivation activities.

About 22 metric tonnes of pearl millet seeds have been procured and are expected to be distributed to the communal crop-producing regions this season, says the report. The north-central and the Zambezi regions will each get three tonnes, while Kavango West and Kavango East will receive 2.4 tons and 1.6 metric tonnes respectively. The Kunene region will receive 1.4 metric tonnes of pearl millet seed.

NEARING EMPTY: The Agriculture ministry’s silos at Tsandi in the Omusati region. Photo: FILE

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