By: Nghiinomenwa-vali Erastus
The country’s inability to produce enough cereal grains and fresh produce has forced consumers to go and buy outside, spending N$3,4 billion in the last 15 months ending September 2022.
Out of this import bill, cereal grain rules the bill, with wheat and maize being the most imported products.
Despite the 11 green schemes, several dams, four perennial rivers, and a 150-kilometer water canal, the country struggles to produce its food.
Another factor is that various retailers opt to go buy beyond the Orange River other then from local producers.
During the 15 months, Namibian producers and agents managed to export only N$1,5 billion worth of grains and fresh produce (agronomic and horticulture products).
As a result, the gap between imports and export stood at N$2,04 billion for the period.
For the past five quarters, Namibia’s agronomic and horticulture export only went beyond N$220 million once, reaching almost a billion in value (N$904,3 million).
However, the country has been consistently importing agronomic and horticulture products consistently, valued between N$480 million and N$800 million every quarter since the third quarter of last year.
The country’s exports in agronomic are driven by some maize when there is a bumper harvest, the cereal grain imports of wheat and maize which are mostly imported from South Africa and Lithuania.
For the horticulture sector, the country is exporting mainly tomatoes, onions and beans – this export is, however, not stable and is below N$200 million for the period under review.
For the third quarter of 2022 the products of agriculture, horticulture, and market gardening recorded an import bill of N$690.2 million for Q3 of 2022 up from N$484.7 million registered in Q3 of 2021.
It is evident that imports increased more than exports, thus the trade deficit deteriorated further from N$348.3 million in Q3 of 2021 to N$485.4 million recorded in Q3 of 2022.
CROPS AND LIVESTOCK
If one adds the livestock subsector to the agronomic and horticulture sector, the picture changes a bit in terms of export, since the country livestock subsector is well established on the southern side of the redline and export beef and live animals.
However, the picture of imports worsens as the country still imports beef products from all over the world.
During the 15 months under review, the country’s export of agricultural products was valued at N$3,74 billion. The value of imports from Q3 of 2021 to the end of September 2022 stood at N$3,73 billion. Consequently, the trade balance for the agricultural sector stood at N$506,4 million for the 5 quarters.
For the past five quarters, Namibia was only able to export more agri-output compared to import and that was in the third and fourth quarters of 2021- in the same period, the export reached a billion value.
During the third quarter of 2022 export of agricultural products (crops and livestock) was valued at N$606.0 million, an increase when compared to N$581.8 million recorded in Q3 of 2021
The value of imports in Q3 of 2022 stood at N$747,1 million compared to N$555,6 million recorded in the corresponding quarter of 2021.
Consequently, the trade balance worsened from a trade surplus of N$26.2 million noted in Q3 of 2021 to a deficit of N$141.1 million registered in Q3 of 2022.
According to Namibia Statistical Agency, the agriculture sector continues to experience high costs of production.
The high factor costs were mainly reflected in fuel prices that rose by 49%, feed by 32.5%, and animal health by 13.9% in Q3 of 20221.
The crop subsector could only contribute 0.4% to GDP for the third quarter of 2022 after a 5% contribution in the second quarter.
The livestock sector accounted for 3.4% of GDP, a decline from 4% in the preceding quarter
The agriculture subsector output registered a decline of 14.2% during the third quarter.