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Local maize producers achieve record-breaking harvest

Local maize producers achieve record-breaking harvest

Staff Reporter

LOCAL maize producers achieved a groundbreaking milestone by marketing an impressive 98,824 tonnes of maize to local millers during the 2022 marketing season – the highest maize production harvest ever recorded in the country.

This announcement was recently made by the Namibia Agronomic Board (NAB), which estimated this production’s value at approximately N$622 million.

The NAB emphasised that local white maize production has been on an upward trend after the 2018-2019 drought. In 2019, the country witnessed its lowest harvest of 28,887 tonnes. Subsequently, production surged to 66,642 tonnes in 2020, followed by 82,725 tonnes in 2021, before reaching the unprecedented high of 98,824 tonnes in 2022.

The NAB attributed this remarkable increase in production to a rise in the number of local producers and expanded hectares dedicated to crop cultivation.

“White maize holds a prominent position among the essential grain crops cultivated within Namibia, serving primarily for human consumption. The cultivation of white maize occurs across various production zones, including Zambezi, Kavango, North Central (Etunda), Karst (Maize Triangle), Central (Summerdown and Hochfeld), and the South (Hardap),” NAB explained.

Further details from the Board revealed Karst as the leading production zone, contributing 47% of the total tonnage, followed by Central with 24%, and North Central as the zone with the lowest tonnage production, contributing only 1%.

According to NAB, out of the 98,824 tonnes of maize produced, 46% was rainfed, while 54% was produced under irrigation. With good rainfall, NAB added, Namibia has good potential to increase local production by more than 50% of the domestic demand.

The board added that the total local demand for white maize amounted to 191,029 tonnes, with 52% produced within the country and the remaining 49% imported, mainly from South Africa. The NAB clarified that the allocation of white maize production to millers was based on their market share in grain demand, mentioning that there are currently 20 registered white maize millers on the NAB AMID system.

It’s not just maize production that saw an increase; wheat production also experienced a 13% growth, according to the NAB.

“This data suggests that Namibian producers are demonstrating considerable dedication towards enhancing their output to meet domestic demand and achieving self-sufficiency in staple food production within the country,” the board said.

However, achieving food self-sufficiency continues to face challenges due to ongoing geopolitical tensions globally. Agriculture Minister Calle Schlettwein recently highlighted this issue, explaining that higher food prices and pressure on production are hindering real growth in the sector, leading to decreased incentives for both production and consumption.

“What, unfortunately, has happened is that food prices, that is consumer prices for food, has increased sharply, on the one hand. But on the other hand, there’s a reduction of prices for producers. The prices for maize and grain have reduced by N$1,000 per ton in this year. So, the economy is not helping. We have two losses: one loss in consumption because of higher prices, one loss in producer prices. So, it is very, very difficult at the moment to instil growth if that situation is prevailing,” Schlettwein said.

File photo for illustrative purposes only.

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