NAMIBIA – Namibia has forecasted potato production in the country for the next five months by local farmers will be 8,121 tonnes against expected demand of 19,144 tonnes, creating a shortfall.

With the deficit, the Namibia Agronomic Board (NAB) has stated that the country will have to spend N$160.2m (US$10.7m) on potato imports which are normally sourced from South Africa.

According to reports by the Namibian, the expected deficit was not only recorded this year as last year’s harvest was only able to meet 21% of domestic potato needs, while the remaining 79% had to be imported.

Potatoes are the most consumed product in the country, with an average demand of 3 800 tonnes every month.

Emilie Abraham, horticulture market manager, said the country is battling high input costs for procuring potatoes especially among small-scale producers.

“Low potato production could be attributed to factors such as the difficulty acquiring potato seeds faced by small-scale farmers,” Abraham said.

NAB is now seeking investment in potato tuber-producing factories to reduce input costs and stimulate local production.

Abraham said the board is in the process of engaging regional and international investors to help set up a local seed-producing factory.

“This effort would not only assist local producers to access potato tubers easily, but also boost potato production in the country and eventually meet local demand,” she said.

In addition, the board is ensuring farmers have market security for their produce by closing borders when there is sufficient supply.

The government of Namibia through NAB recently introduced new regulations aimed to curb importation of fruits and vegetables that can be easily produced in the country.

The new measures in line with the Market Share Promotion (MSP) scheme to take effect from 1 August 2020 include import levies, trade levies, registration of importers and acquisition of import permits.

Namibia also temporarily discontinued white maize imports from June 1 and Pear millet from July 1, until the local harvest has been taken up and partially milled.

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