Fresh produce could be good earners

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WINDHOEK – The top seven horticulture fresh produce crops in Namibia are potatoes, onions, cabbages, carrots, green peppers, tomatoes and sweet potatoes.

According to the data collection and forecasts done by the Namibian Agronomic Board (NAB), these fresh produce lines could prove to be good earners for producers. The expected production of cabbages stood at 1 600 tonnes and 1 265 tonnes for January  and February 2015 respectively, while the actual production and average consumption of this particular commodity was just 58 tonnes for both months in 2014. While the production and consumption tonnages for cabbage remained comparatively low, about 58 tonnes were imported during the same months of the previous year.

The same trends are evident for the production of tomatoes, carrots, sweet potatoes and green peppers in Namibia. For all these commodities, expected local production in 2015 far exceeds the sourced tonnage from the previous year. Taking account seasonality for crop production, sweet potatoes needed to be imported to meet market demand during January  and February 2014 while the expected local production for the same period in 2015  stands at below 80 tonnes and below 60 tonnes in January and February respectively. During January 2014, locally sourced sweet potatoes stood at just more than five tonnes with the average consumption of this commodity at 30 tonnes, 60 tonnes needed to be imported. In February 2014, local production rose to about 25 tonnes and import declined to about 35 tonnes. “The dramatic difference between the 2014 scenario and what we predict for the 2015 production season can be attributed to many different things,” comments Fidelis Mwazi, previously the National Horticulture Manager of the Namibian Agronomic Board (NAB). He adds that here was greater emphasis from  the NAB to encourage not only more, but better quality production because of the Namibian Market Share Promotion, which encourages traders and all resellers of fresh fruit and vegetables to buy a certain minimum percentage of locally produced commodities. “During farmer visits throughout the country, we placed emphasis on the fact that Namibian producers are capable of growing crops that can replace the imports of many commodities. We communicated the MSP wherever and whenever we had the opportunity to both producers and traders,” says Mwazi.

The Namibian Market Share Promotion currently stands at 41.5 % and is the threshold of how much all importers of fresh fruit and vegetables need to source locally before they are allowed import permits for horticulture fresh produce from outside Namibia. During the third quarter of 2014, the actual MSP obtained was 52 %, which means that only 48 % of our horticulture fresh fruit and vegetable requirements needed to be imported. This remarkable achievement for the Namibian horticulture sector is largely attributed to the success of the Special Potato and Onion Scheme. The value of the national turnover for locally produced fresh horticulture produce for the same period was N$ 87million compared with N$ 55million for the same period in 2014, a considerable increase of N$ 32million.

“The aim is to increase the MSP from its current threshold of 41.5 % to its maximum of 60%,” says Mwazi. However, he cautions, “we will never be able to achieve an MSP of 100% because we will always import commodities such as apples and pears. Our climate is just not conducive to growing such crops and there are, of course, the seasonality issues that need to be taken into account, for example, while tomatoes is one of our top seven crops, we will still have to import them when they are out of growing season here in Namibia”.

The Namibian Agronomic Board has spearheaded the development of a comprehensive database of producers of horticulture fresh produce over the past three  years, which will be used in the near future to develop a production plan for Namibia that outlines which crop can be grown where, when and by whom. The plan will be implemented by the Agricultural Marketing and Trade Agency (AMTA) where Mwazi was recently appointed Senior Manager: Market Promotion and Research. For more information, contact Fidelis Mwazi, Senior Manager: Market Promotion and Research, AMTA on (061) 37 9500.

 

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