Wheat production in the country has decreased steadily in the last few years due to the unfavourable weather conditions, especially within the last two drought years.
Locally-produced wheat has gone down from 15 000 tons in 2012 to 11 600 tons in 2014, causing an inability to meet Namibia’s local wheat consumption of between 100 000 to 150 000 tons.
The Namibia Agronomic Board (NAB)’s Wheat and Maize Manager, Antoinette Venter said locally-produced wheat has gone down, with imports increasing to between 85 000 and 95 000.
“Namibian wheat production, only possible under irrigation, has seen a slight reduction of 3 500 tonnes. In the previous reporting period, local production stood at 14 819 tonnes, while for the period under review, total production of 11 312 tonnes were achieved,” Venter said.
Despite the decline in comparison to bumper crops experienced during the previous year when Namibia had exceptionally good rainfalls, the total production of white maize and horticultural products, in terms of quantity, remained at satisfactory levels.
Maize, with its bumper crop, has shown a steady increase over the years, with 2006 recording about 40 000, 2011 recording about 53 000 tons and 2014 seeing a significant increase of 73 000 tons, which is almost meeting half of Namibia’s white maize consumption quota of 135 000 tons.
“This increase can be attributed to the well-devised marketing of white maize and as a result of government projects, which made provision for irrigational farming, dryland harvesting and commercially-analysed farmland,” she stated.
Horticultural production has increased from its 5% in 2005 to its current Market Share Promotion (MSP) of 41%, with the actual MSP threshold for the 2nd quarter being 53%.
Although border control doesn’t have a system to collate figures showing the increase in exports made, horticultural exports have increased significantly. However, potatoes and onions have been Namibia’s biggest export crops.
The high MSP is attributed to the issue of import permits for normal white onions mostly consumed in Namibia, and the availability of potatoes from local producers.
At the same time, the high MSP obtained compared to the MSP threshold is attributed to the production forecast for cabbage, tomato, carrot, green pepper and sweet potato, which makes it easy for the importation of normal white onions.
The country’s border was closed for the importation of normal white onions from 1 June 2015, and it is expected to last until the end of December 2015 as the local production forecast for normal white onions indicates sufficient local production for the relevant period.
“From a production point of view, challenges faced during the production of horticulture products include the environmental aspect, spearheaded by the winter season, which has caused a decrease in production. Very hot weather also plays a part as it might be too hot for the crops to crow.
Then there is the reduction in production areas, and a lack of water resources experienced mostly in the northern regions,” NAB’s Horticulture Specialist, Manjo Krige said.
During the current review period, the rainfed production of white maize and mahangu took a lot of strain due to the severity of the drought Namibia experienced.
Local mahangu production has also not been meeting local demand, as 5 000 tons of mahangu is being consumed locally, of which only 1 500 tons are being produced locally and the rest imported from India.
The Overall Namibian Market Share Promotion percentage remained at 39%, but all indications are that this percentage will increase to 40% and higher in the near future.
Currently, a total number of 34 millers are registered with the NAB to mill grain and are broken down into 19 who are registered to mill white maize, with 15 registered to mill mahangu.
Of the 34, five are registered to mill wheat and white maize, two are registered to mill white maize and mahangu and just one miller is registered to mill wheat, white maize and mahangu.