Namibian maize farmers achieve production record

Niël Terblanché

Despite struggling with challenges of food self-sufficiency amidst global geopolitical tensions, Namibia has witnessed an outstanding achievement in its agricultural sector.

The Minister of Agriculture, Water and Land Reform, Calle Schlettwein, recently shed light on the difficulties faced by the nation. He emphasized that the agricultural sector is under immense strain due to increasing food prices and decreasing producer prices. “Consumer prices for food have surged while producer prices for maize and grain have seen a reduction of N$1,000 per ton this year,” Schlettwein said while clarifying the economic challenges farmers face.

However, amidst these challenges, Namibia’s maize producers have defied the odds. During the 2022 marketing season, they achieved the highest maize production harvest ever recorded in the country, totalling a staggering 98,824 tonnes of maize. This amazing feat was made even more significant by the fact that it was achieved despite the adverse conditions in the agricultural industry.

The Namibia Agronomic Board (NAB) recently released figures indicating a production value of approximately N$622 million for white maize.

The NAB in its report pointed to the upward trajectory of local white maize production, which had been on the rise since the 2018-2019 drought.

In 2019, Namibia saw its lowest harvest of 28,887 tonnes, but production rebounded to 66,642 tonnes in 2020 and further surged to 82,725 tonnes in 2021 before reaching the record-breaking 98,824 tonnes in 2022.

The NAB attributed this exceptional increase in production to the growth of local producers and expanded cultivation areas dedicated to maize production.

White maize holds a crucial position among the essential grain crops cultivated in Namibia, primarily for human consumption. It is cultivated in various production zones across the country, including Zambezi, Kavango, North Central (Etunda), Karst (Maize Triangle), Central (Summerdown and Hochfeld), and the South (Hardap).

Further insights from the NAB revealed that the Karst region emerged as the leading production zone, contributing 47 percent of the total tonnage, followed by Central with 24 percent.

In contrast, North Central had the lowest tonnage production, contributing only one percent of the total maize harvest.

Of the 98,824 tonnes of maize produced, 46 percent was grown under dryland conditions, while the remaining 54 percent was produced under irrigation.

With favourable rainfall, Namibia possesses the potential to increase local production by over 50 percent of the domestic demand.

The NAB also reported that the total local demand for white maize stood at 191,029 tonnes, with 52 percent produced within the country and the remaining 49 percent imported, primarily from South Africa.

The allocation of white maize production to millers was based on their market share in grain demand. Currently, there are 20 registered white maize millers on the NAB AMID system.

In addition to maize, wheat production in Namibia also experienced growth, recording a 13 percent increase, as per the NAB’s data.

According to the NAB, this growth signifies the dedication of Namibian producers to enhance their output, meet domestic demand, and work towards achieving self-sufficiency in staple food production within the country.

Namibia’s maize producers have persevered in the face of adversity and showcased their commitment to the nation’s food security.

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