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Namibia to spend millions on potato imports in effort to address food crisis

To make up for the monthly potato production shortfall, drought stricken Namibia will have to spend around N$160,2 million on potato imports for the next five months – N$13 million a month. This was revealed by the Namibia Agronomic Board, Nghinomenwa Erastus reports in The Namibian.

The country’s production forecast for the next five months revealed that local farmers will only produce 8 121 tonnes of potatoes, while the country needs 19 144 tonnes. Potatoes are the most consumed fresh produce 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 seed faced by small-scale farmers,” Abraham said.

She said currently the expected supply would only come from large-scale producers in the country, which could explain the expected deficit of 11 023 tonnes for the next five months.

Abraham said the board is in the process of engaging regional and international investors to help set up a local seed-producing operations.
This would make acquiring seed more convenient for small-scale farmers who do not have the financial muscle to procure them abroad.

The expected deficit was not only recorded this year.
Abraham said last year’s harvest was only able to meet 21% of domestic potato needs, while the remaining 79% had to be imported.

She said most of the country’s imports are from neighbouring South Africa. It was reported two weeks ago that Malta is to send 468 tonnes of ware potatoes to Namibia. This follows the Ministry for Foreign and European Affairs’ expression of interest for the provision of 500 tonnes of ware potatoes to address the food crisis in Namibia.

Source: The Namibian
Photo: Potato Business

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