About 70% of the Namibian population depends on agricultural activities for livelihood, mostly in the subsistence sector. Agriculture in Namibia contributes around 5.1% of the GDP of which 70 % represents the output of the livestock sub - sector. Over the years, the sector’s performance have been minimal as a result of among others , low and delayed rainfall experienced in the 2014/15 season led to a drought that is estimated to lead to a contraction in both livestock farming and crop production. Despite the declining or small share contribution to GDP, the sector remains the backbone of the economy and prosperity for many Namibians.
The sector’s significance is largely because of its potential for growth and job creation. As such, agriculture has continued to receive enormous support by government through support programmes aimed at increasing productivity to ensure food security, creation of employment and poverty eradication as highlighted in both NDP4 and Harambee Prosperity Plan.
In the past the focus on the sector was more on primary production and only little was done with regard to value addition. Part of the government’s commitment to providing support to the sector, agro-processing is one of the targeted sectors in the “Growth At Home Strategy’’ aimed at value addition to discourage reliance on primary production exports. The sub-sector has potential to increase value addition, to create jobs and income and export opportunities, to enhance food security and reduce dependence on imports.
The government has devised programs and projects to ensure food security at both national and household level. In this regard, an agency (AMTA) was established to coordinate and manage the marketing and trading of Agricultural Produce in Namibia through Fresh Produce Business Hubs (FPBH) and National Strategic Food Reserves (NSFR) facilities ensuring high quality standard to achieve food security.
Green scheme initiative was introduced by government to encourage the development of irrigation – based agronomic production within the sector. In order to increase production of crops under irrigation, AgriBusDev Company was established to implement the Green Scheme programme. The scheme offers about five (5) various farming models and management structures. To date, a total number of eleven (11) Green Scheme irrigation projects are inexistence and found country - wide.
Latent for investment in the sector exists in the value adding processes of live stock, crop production and food processing. Prospects also exist in the field of horticulture in olive oil, jojoba and flower production.
Despite its arid and semi-arid climate, Namibia is able to produce a variety of crops ranging from cereals, fruits and horticulture products. The horticulture covers fresh agricultural produce including tomatoes, potatoes, carrots, cabbage, butternuts, beans and groundnuts, dates, grapes, watermelons, span speck, citrus and others under irrigations. Cereals crops include maize, pear millet (mahangu), wheat and sunflower.
Figures from the Namibian Agronomic Board indicate that the national turnover of horticulture increased in value from N$55 million in the third quarter of 2013 to N$87 million in the third quarter of 2014. Increased production of horticulture produce indicates that massive opportunities still exist within the sector. The main crop exports under agriculture include dates and grapes.
The Namibian livestock sector consists of cattle, sheep, goats and pigs, accounting to about 76% of livestock production of overall agricultural output value of which 70% is from the commercial areas and 6% from communal areas.
Animal products, live animals, and crop exports constituted roughly 10.7% of total Namibian exports. Live export to South Arica and Angola are cattle, goat and sheep. According to Meat Board of Namibia, beef is exported mainly to EU, Norway and South Africa. Mutton is mainly exported to South Africa.
Namibia’s meat industry produces a large number of processed meat products. Renowned for its quality, tenderness and wholesome goodness, opportunities exist for product diversification and expansion noting the country’s competitive advantage on:
Animal Health & Meat Standards: Namibian meat is well renowned for its world-class commercial meat industry that pursues international standards and Halaal compliance.
Natural Production Environment: The natural production environment and growth stimulant free meat makes Namibian meat attractive to niche markets
High standard of accredited export facilities: Quality infrastructure and established processing capacity for export of high quality meat
Quality Product: Quality, tasty, export standard, sought after meat product is delivered
Well Regulated & Organised Industry: A well-organised commercial farming and meat industry exists with industry regulation
Sufficient Supply: There is sufficient variety of raw goods: sheep, beef and game
Market access: Namibian meat has preferential market access supported by EU, RSA and USA approved export abattoirs
Government access: Approachable government sector to discuss industry issues