Despite massive odds, particularly given the current drought and consecutive droughts since 2012, Namibian small and medium-scale producers have markedly increased their supply of fruit and vegetables to traders.
The value of formally marketed local produce increased from N$195.435 million to N$235.832 million between February 2015 and February 2016 and emphasises the important role these producers play in providing food for people.
This was disclosed by the acting horticulture manager of the Namibian Agricultural Board (NAB), Manjo Krige last Friday, a week before entries close for this year’s annual Horticulture Producer of the Year Awards ceremony, which is to take place in September.
The NAB organises this prestigious event where local producers of horticultural fresh fruit and vegetables from across the country converge on the farm of the winning producer of the year in the emerging, medium scale or large-scale categories.
Now in its 10th year, the Horticulture Producer of the Year Awards recognise the extraordinary breed of farmers who have made a success of their farming business through sheer determination, dedication and foresight.
“The drive to decrease Namibia’s dependence on imports – or import substitution as it is known in the industry – is one cog in government’s big engine to propel Namibia to become an industrialised and self-sufficient country by 2030, and also serves as a practical demonstration of the NAB’s motto which is to create an environment that is conducive to the growing and processing of crops,” Krige told New Era.
The market regulation is known as the Namibian Market Share Promotion (MSP), where all importers of fresh fruit and vegetables in Namibia are required to buy a minimum percentage of their fresh produce from Namibian producers – before they are granted a permit to import fresh produce from outside the country. Currently this minimum percentage stands at 44 percent, up from a mere 5 percent since the inception of MSP in 2005.
As a result of this voluntary agreement between producers and traders, the local horticultural industry in Namibia continues to grow. The NAB plays a crucial role in facilitating and overseeing the implementation of this agreement. The implementation is done by the Agro Marketing and Trade Agency (AMTA), an agent appointed by the NAB and marketing is done by the Agricultural Business Development Agency (Agribusdev).
Under these agency agreements, the responsibilities of AMTA and Agribusdev include issuing import permits, border control and marketing and distribution of produce.
The awards ceremony has also become known for celebrating the professional, innovative and sustainable approach of Namibian farmers and farming families and highlights their successes and the important role they play in producing food for Namibia.
Producers are called upon to submit entries for the title of National Horticulture Producer of the Year across three different categories.
The categories are:
• Large Scale Producer of the Year, where the producer farms on an area of 10 or more hectares;
• Medium Scale Producer of the Year, where the producer farms on an area of between three and 10 hectares; and,
• Small Scale Producer of the Year, where production takes place on three hectares or less
To stand a chance of being awarded the respective Horticulture Producer of the Year titles, producers from across Namibia are encouraged to submit their applications to be endorsed by their local Namibia Horticulture Producers (NAHOP) Area Committee. Entries close on May 20. Farm evaluation visits will be done by a panel of judges comprising representatives from the NAB, NAHOP, the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry, AMTA, Agribusdev and previous winners of the awards. Evaluations will take place between June 12 and 18. Entry forms are available through the NAHOP Area Committees, which represent all horticultural producers in the country. These can also be downloaded from the NAB website at www.nab.com.na or call the NAB on (061) 37 9500 for further information.
For more information regarding the National Horticulture Day, contact Manjo Krige, acting horticulture manager at the Namibian Agronomic Board, on (061) 37 9500.