Windhoek-Namibians can breathe a collective sigh of relief following major local commercial millers’ guarantee that the situation is under control as there are no major problems experienced so far in importing cereals in Namibia.
The Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry says key local millers have assured the nation that there will be no major price increase in the next few months, except in the event of significant weakening of the South African Rand (to which the Namibian dollar is pegged) against the US dollar.
Namibia imported large amounts of cereal in 2016 to feed over 50 per cent of the Namibian population.
These cereals included pearl millet, sorghum, wheat and maize that are subsistence rain-fed crops. It is the major staple food for more than half of Namibian residents.
These imports were necessitated by the fact that most households who could harvest in 2015 reportedly depleted their poor harvests and had to depend on the retail market and the Government Drought Relief Food Programme to access food.
Aggregate cereal estimates indicated the country received a good cereal harvest which is
estimated at 84 percent higher than last season’s harvest and about 16 percent above the average production.
The national aggregate coarse grain production (white maize, sorghum, pearl millet and wheat) is estimated at 140,000 metric tonnes. This consists of 68,100 tonnes of white maize, 57,600 tonnes of pearl millet, 2,800 tonnes of sorghum and 11,500 tonnes of wheat.
This is contained in the latest Crop Prospects and Food Security Situation Report released by the agriculture ministry. The report was prepared by the Namibia Early Warning and Food Information Unit (NEWFIU) in collaboration with its cooperating partners. It undertook its second crop assessment mission in the seven major communal crop-producing regions between 8th May and 5th June 2017.
At the time of this report, information about the imports and export statistics on cereals was not yet available.
However, the report indicates, this deficit under normal circumstances is expected to be covered through commercial imports in the form of either grains or meals. The supply and demand, as indicated in the report, shows that the available cereal locally for the current marketing or consumption period is estimated at 181,200 metric tons.
This comprises of 21,300 tonnes of wheat, 98,700 tonnes of white maize and 61, 200 tons of pearl millet and sorghum.
In contrast, the report shows the current cereal domestic availability is only about 52 percent of the domestic cereal requirements, hence 167,100 tons is required to cover the shortfall.
According to the report, this is consisting of 61, 700 tons of wheat, 83,900 tons of maize and 21 400 tons of pearl millet and sorghum.
It further states that the aggregate coarse grain represents a significant improvement in output of 84 percent higher than last season and 16 percent above the average production.
“This improvement came because of a considerable increase from the producers both in the subsistence and commercial production system,” it states.
It records that the below average planted area came because of poor rainfall performance experienced in the north central regions as well as heavy rainfall experienced in the Zambezi Region.
In the Kavango West and Kavango East regions as well as the commercial areas, most farmers covered a greater part of their crop fields, it shows.
The assessment noted that the crop producing regions recorded a good crop harvest which according to producers is much better by far than the past two previous seasons.
The report also noted that household food security has improved significantly as most households were reported to be dependent on their own harvest for food access.
According to most households interviewed, the current harvest is significant and is expected to sustain households through to the next harvest in May next year.