UNDER THE GOVERNMENT’S FOURTH NATIONAL DEVELOPMENT PLAN (NDP4), AGRICULTURE IS AN ECONOMIC PRIORITY SECTOR DUE TO ITS POTENTIAL TO CONTRIBUTE TO ECONOMIC GROWTH AND JOB CREATION. THE SECTOR IS SEEN IN THE WIDER CONTEXT OF LARGE-SCALE DEVELOPMENT OF THE AGRIBUSINESS AND AGRO-INDUSTRY.
FARMING IN NAMIBIA
Farming in Namibia centres around livestock and game, as the country’s arid conditions and poor soils are not well suited for crop production. Subsistence crop farming is common in the north, however, and grain is also grown commercially.
Agriculture (excluding fishing) contributes ± 6.2% to Namibia’s Gross Domestic Product. Primary products include livestock and meat products, crop farming and forestry.
There are two main types of farming: commercial farming and subsistence farming. A large percentage of Namibians (25% to 40%) depend on agricultural activities to make a living, mostly in the subsistence sector.
Subsistence farming is mainly confined to the “communal lands” of Namibia’s populous north, where roaming cattle is prevalent and the main crops are millet, sorghum, maize and peanuts.
There are about 4000 commercial farms in Namibia. Cattle breeding is predominant in the central and northern regions, while karakul sheep and goats are typical for the more arid southern regions. The government encourages local sourcing of agricultural products. Retailers of fruits, vegetables and other crop products are obliged to purchase 27.5% of their stock from local farmers. Table grapes, grown mostly along the Orange River in the arid south, have become an increasingly important commercial crop and a significant source of income for seasonal labour.
Only 2% of Namibia receives sufficient rainfall to grow crops. All inland rivers are ephemeral, which means that they flow only after heavy rain. Irrigation is therefore limited to the valleys of the Orange, Kunene and Okavango rivers which form Namibia’s borders. The rainy season starts in October and ends in March or April. In 2015 Windhoek had a mere 197 mm of rainfall; the total at the end of 2016 was 273.2 mm. The Green Scheme Project, an initiative by the Minister of Agriculture, Water and Food, John Mutorwa, encourages the development of irrigation in the maize triangle (Grootfontein, Tsumeb and Otavi), as well as in the central northern and north-eastern regions with water from the Kunene, Kavango and Zambezi rivers. The Green Scheme also promotes agro-projects on the Orange River and at dams such as the Naute and Hardap dams in the south.
Farming in Namibia faces many challenges, whether insufficient rainfall or barren land. But there are systems in place that can help to deal with these challenges. If those resources are used responsibly we should see Namibia’s agricultural sector bloom in the near future.
MINISTRY OF AGRICULTURE, WATER & FORESTRY
+264 61 208 711
AGRICULTURAL AND INDUSTRY RELATED PRODUCTS AND SERVICES
+264 61 290 9111