Horticulture producers can supply half demand – The Namibian

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THE Namibian Agronomic Board (NAB) has closed the border for the importation of 50% of the 20 controlled products on the special import list.

According to a notice to all horticulture traders that was issued by NAB chief executive officer Fidelis Mwazi last week, the border will be closed for the importation of all types and sizes of beetroot, butternut, English cucumber, coloured and green pepper, pumpkin, sweet potato, jam tomato, cocktail/cherry/mini plum tomato and sweetcorn, except for the exclusions.

Mwazi said the closure of the border from 1-31 March is in line with the Agronomic Industry Act and the Namibian Horticulture Market Share Promotion scheme rules and regulations that are designed to protect Namibian producers from cheap imports that might flood the market.

The closure of the border is an indication that local producers are capable of meeting local demand for these particular products.

However, where supply shortfalls are anticipated, Mwazi has directed that certain products be imported on a pro rata basis.

Only 70% of requirements for all types and sizes of carrots and 50% of cabbage and round tomato can be imported for the month of March, except for exclusions.

With local spinach production on the wane, NAB directed that 60% of all types and sizes can be imported except for exclusions.

The board also imposed a 40% import quota for all types and sizes of watermelon and sweet melon and 30% importation is allowed for all types of lettuce (iceberg) for the month, except for exclusions.

Only gem squash, onions and potato washed are open for importation without restriction, although the mandatory 47% market share promotion scheme applies.

Under the market share promotion scheme, traders must first acquire 47% of their horticulture products from local producers before they can be issued an import permit.

OUTLOOK

According to a recent Simonis Storm agriculture report, the La Niña phenomenon is not proving to benefit Namibia much this year.

Many areas crucial for local food production still have not received adequate, timely or sufficient rain which is expected to limit crop production in 2023.

This is also evidenced by current water dam levels being below levels recorded 12-months ago.

“We therefore maintain our negative stance on crop farming activities in 2023 which will likely weigh on agricultural growth for the year,” said Simonis.

Local food prices are also at risk of seeing further increases as we import most of our food from South Africa.

The NAB had indicated that Namibia produces only between 20% and 30% of our annual food requirement, making the country vulnerable to crop production and therefore prices in South Africa.

The analysts added that local crop production looks bleak when considering that there is forecasted shortages between January and May 2023

“These developments pose a risk to our inflation forecast of 5,3% in 2023, given that food has the second largest weight (16,5%) in our consumer price basket used to calculate inflation rates,” said Simonis analysts.



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