By: Nghiinomenwa Erastus
So much has been said about the potential of the Namibian agricultural sectors.
Conferences were held, it ranks high on every country’s plans; however, the country is still importing most of its agri-products.
The country continues to produce inadequately, not only for local markets but also to take up the exporting opportunities.
The Villager scrutinized the trading patterns of the agricultural sector using the five quarters, from the third quarter of 2020 to the third quarter of 2021.
Using the Namibia Statistics Agency (NSA), Quarterly Agriculture Statistical Bulletin for the third quarter.
The Villager analyzed the import of nine agri-products that the country is currently underproducing, namely: chicken meat, wheat, maize, vegetable seeds, eggs, rice, animal skin/hides, mushrooms and sorghum.
As a result, Namibia retailers/wholesalers and import agents have spent N$2,8 billion for the past five quarters (15 months) importing to feed local consumers.
These imports are led by chicken meat, with N$1,1 billion spent for the past 15 months.
Although the country’s poultry industry is growing with many emerging medium and small poultry (broiler) farmers around the country- the import of chicken meat has been steady since the third quarter last year.
This reflects less local chicken meat production development in terms of volume to the formal sector.
According to NSA, the country is importing its meat and meat products’ mainly sourced from South Africa, Brazil and the United States, accounting for 26,8%, 21% and 17,9%, respectively.
The country also goes as far as Georgia for meat products (9,7%), Spain (6,8%) and Germany (4,9%).
The country has also spent N$1,4 billion importing wheat (N$732,7 million) and maize for the past five quarters.
This is despite market intelligence done by the Namibia Agronomic Board (NAB) revealing that the country soil and climate is conducive for wheat production.
For maize, the commercial farmers are still struggling to meet local demand, given that some are rainfed and only produce seasonally- while small scale producers are not expanding to fill the gap either.
The Villager observations in most localities are that vendors are selling eggs from car boots or home shops. In contrast, others deliver from their small farmers- showing that the informal market is somehow entirely supplied.
Despite this observation in the informal sector, the formal sector has spent on average N$37,1 million every three months on eggs imports.
By the end of the 2021 third quarter, the formal sector has imported eggs valued at N$186,3 million.
Notable again is the country’s N$$45,8 million expenditure on vegetable seeds imports- many emerging producers have been lamenting the cost of seeds in the country, while the ministry of agriculture subsidizes the price of seeds every cropping season.
Highlighting the investment opportunity in the agriculture value chain
South Africa claimed the highest import market, with Namibia procuring 98,8% of its seeds and vegetable imports from across the Orange River.
Trade-in vegetables are controlled by the Namibia Agronomic Board, where importation of certain vegetables is restricted when local supply exceeds local demand. The opposite happens when there is a shortage in the domestic market.
Another agri-commodity that the country can produce is rice. However, the rice project plays dies and resurrect games in the Zambezi region.
As the Kalimbezi rice projects struggled to pick up and penetrate the market, the formal market had spent on average N$7,9 million every three months since September last year on rice import.
Total rice import for the 15 months reviewed stood at N$39,5 million.
Another depressing trend observed in agricultural commodity trading is that the country has fallen off a horse by switching from an exporter of ‘hides, skins and fur skins, raw to an importer, thereby drastically reducing from N$13,5 million in 2020Q3 to N$3,2 million in 2021.
The country has now imported N$22 million worth of raw hides, skins and fur skins in the past 15 months ending in September 2021.
This is when tanneries like the one on the country’s northern side are dead and seek investors.
Another commodity driving agricultural imports are mushrooms and truffles. For the past five quarters, the country has spent N$6,2 million on the two products imports.
The country is not only underproducing maize and wheat; NSA trade statistics also show a gap in sorghum production.
The Village compilation found that the country’s import for sorghum has jumped from N$100 000 at the end of September last year to N$900 000 by September 2021.
The sorghum grain is also produced by small-holder farmers in the central north and eastern region but primarily for consumption.
The Villager analysis on the highlighted agri-commodities quantifies the “the high potential in agriculture” statement that is quietly used and presents investment opportunities to the table.