Fresh produce market now better protected

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Windhoek

Foreign producers who over the years have flooded the local market with their produce now face tougher restrictions following the decision to regulate import permits more stringently. The goal is to ensure that Namibian fresh produce has a secured and ready local market.

The country’s green schemes previously suffered from a lack of regulations to protect local fresh produce from competition by cheaper imports.

However, the managing director of the agricultural business development company Agribusdev, Petrus Uugwanga, says that under the regulations the local market is now shielded against competition from cheap mass produced fruit and vegetables from South Africa, thereby bolstering domestic consumption.

Agribusdev is a Section 21 company.

Uugwanga said that since the regulations were enforced last year by the Agro Marketing and Trade Agency (AMTA), there has been no oversupply of produce as experienced in the past, when vegetables ended up rotting in warehouses as there was no market.

“We don’t have an oversupply of fresh produce. The reason it happened in the past was because the person who issued permits for imports never looked at what we had in the country. As we are talking now, the issuing of permits for imports is done by AMTA, and is synchronised with our production at Agribusdev,” he said.

“It means that before they issue permits they look at local production. They cannot give permits to import onions when we have onions. In the past, you could just get a truckload of onions from outside and flood the market, while we have our own quality onions,” he added.

Uugwanga explained that the regulations compel businesses to buy from local producers rather than import from other countries.

Before the regulations, tonnes of vegetables produced at the Uvhungu-Vhungu green scheme in Kavango East went to waste due to lack of storage facilities and a limited market.

Uvhungu-Vhungu also struggled to find markets because the Sikondo and Ndonga Linena projects produced the same products, flooding the market.

The projects had bumper maize production, besides producing potatoes and butternuts. About 18 000 tonnes of maize were harvested this year, compared to last year’s yield of 16 000 tonnes.

The maize production is transported to the national strategic food reserves, where AMTA helps coordinate the milling process.

According to Uugwanga , Etunda irrigation project has its own mill. Currently, along with other millers, it processes grain for the Omusati and Kunene regions.

He said that with the new project, named Ndonga Linena phase two, there will be a better yield for maize. The project which measures 360 hectares currently only produces wheat, but will start maize production around October and November.

“We will have an improved yield for next year and this is just an indication that we are growing,” he said.
Apart from Ngonga Linena phase two, Uugwanga revealed that additional land at Etunda phases 7 and 8 is under production, which comprises 300 hectares.

The project will come into production also in October or November.

Production was delayed because they are still awaiting the installation of the pump station.

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