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ANNUAL HORTICULTURE PRODUCTS DEMAND VALUED AT ALMOST A BILLION

By: Nghiinomenwa Erastus

For those contemplating whether to grow crops and fruits or not, Namibian’s demand for horticultural products is expanding and currently stands at 110 999,47 tons.

This represents an increase of 45 886,47 tons from 65,113 tons that the population demanded in 2018/19.

In monetary value, the country’s demand for horticultural products is valued at N$957,3 million in the 2020/21 financial year.

Compared to N$438,2 million worth of products demanded in 2018/2019. 

According to the Namibia Agronomic Boards (NAB) second edition of Seasons Harvest report for 2021

Despite this growing need, local production cannot meet demand. Most of the supply comes from across the orange river.

According to NAB, local production contributes only 48% to the horticulture (fresh fruits and vegetables) formal domestic demand and the remaining 52% is imported mainly from South Africa.

This is determined using the Market Share Promotion (MSP) scheme.

The board updates revealed that domestic horticulture production increased from 5% in 2004 to 47% in 2019.

The MSP scheme requires fresh fruits and vegetable importers to procure Namibian horticultural products equivalent to the minimum percentage factor in monetary value per quarter.

The minimum MSP currently stands at 48%. It serves as a prerequisite to obtaining an import permit, which means that only traders/importers who have achieved their minimum MSP can import horticultural products unrestricted.

One of the horticultural products with a high demand locally is potato, but domestic farmers cannot meet demand due to various factors. 

The NAB report highlighted that potato is the most consumed horticultural produce in Namibia, with more than 33 000 tons traded through the formal market during the 2018/19 financial year.

More than 23 000 tons were imported from South Africa.

The NAB report indicated that potato farming remains a challenge in Namibia, especially regarding access to seeds and value addition.

For local farmers to access good quality seed potatoes, the board found that local producers have to order seeds in bulk at least three months in advance, which has negatively affected local potato production.

Moreover, potato breeding in Namibia is non-existent as seed potatoes are sourced from South Africa, which is costly.

The board said Namibian potato growers have especially expressed concern about the limited supply of seed potatoes from South Africa from February to May each year due to South African seed producing companies prioritising their local farmers first.

To facilitate the development of the potato value chain, the NAB collaborated with the University of Namibia and some farmers in conducting on-farm trials to test new seed potato varieties obtained from the Comptoir Du Plant company in France.

The first trial harvest was done this year.

The aim was to assess the adaptability of six French potato varieties to the Namibian soil and climatic conditions.

The successful varieties will be used to close the gap in accessing quality and affordable seed potato varieties that are adaptable to Namibia’s soil and climatic conditions.

A second trial on the French varieties is recommended to be conducted to assure each variety’s expected performance.

In enabling the access to market for local producers, the NAB has also developed a Horticulture Special Control Products (SCP) Scheme in 2012. 

The scheme allows for implementing import restrictions on selected horticultural products during times of sufficient local production.

It also encourages fresh produce traders to source locally produced horticultural products.

The scheme started with only two products (potatoes and onions) in 2012, and currently, there are 16 products; potatoes, onions, cabbages, butternuts, tomatoes, carrots, sweet peppers, English cucumbers, sweet potatoes, beetroot, gem squash, watermelons, sweet melons, pumpkins, sweetcorn and lettuce (Iceberg). 

A recent assessment by Agribank has also revealed that upcoming and agri-preneurs are struggling to access off-take agreements buyers- citing consistency and quality issues from local farmers.

However, NAB is still calling on producers to take advantage of the horticultural crops with shortages in the market, such as potatoes, sweet potatoes, sweet pepper, and gem squash.

This can be done through a market-led production approach to ensure that every product produced on the farm has a market before it is planted.

Furthermore, to enhance governance and smoothen the implementation of the MSP by the NAB, all persons involved in the production, processing, storage and marketing of controlled horticultural crops in Namibia are encouraged to register with the NAB. Email: erastus@thevillager.comna

 

 

Julia Heita

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