Agronomic board adds more to the pantry
The Namibia Agronomic Board (NAB) in its annual findings said that the special controlled products scheme has increased the tonnage of locally produced potatoes and onions for the current financial year and currently have plans to extend the scheme.
Harvested tonnage for onions and potatoes, which are considered controlled products increased from 7,911 to 9,328 tonnes and from 13,308 to 15,619 tonnes each, including last years exports, while other popular products such as cabbage, carrots, tomatoes, peepers, sweet potatoes and beetroot will be added to the scheme in the near future.
Locally, imported washed and unwashed potatoes for 2015 stand at 19 125 tonnes and 2 715 tonnes of exported unwashed potatoes when seasonal surpluses exceed the market demand.
The potato market continues to be an opportunity for producers, although Namibian production conditions are challenging during months of high temperatures and frost.
Coupled with the Market Share Promotion (MSP) initiative which compels importers to buy a given percentage of local produce before being able to import has also led to an increase in local production from N$549 million to N$621 million.
A Special Potato and Onion Agreement between the Potato and Onion Producers Association (POPA) and the National Association of Traders in Fresh Produce (NATFP) made a significant contribution towards increasing local production as well as local market access.
In addition to the MSP rules, the agreement makes provision that during the times when there are sufficient quantities of locally produced potatoes and onions available, a closed border period is declared.
During a closed border period, these commodities may not be imported. This provision allows for local producers to sell their produce and only once all locally produced commodities have been marketed are imports allowed.
Importers therefore have to apply for a Special Potato and Onion import permit in addition to the normal import permit for mixed horticulture products.
NAB, CEO, Christof Brock in the report said that proposals by the line Ministry to make changes to the Agronomic Industry Act are in the advanced stages. “This will see the NAB and the Agro Marketing Trade Agency (AMTA) merge as a single entity,” he added.
The two state owned enterprises will implement and foster the promotion of local imports locally and for export markets.
“The Board convened a stakeholder forum for the industry to critically and objectively evaluate the Act amendments for the whole industry to submit “one-voice” proposals to his office.” Brock said on the submissions made to the MAWF office.
He added that it was later agreed after independent and profession consultations to retain the original regulatory functions of the board.
“I am proud to state that our Board meeting and its various focused Commodity and other Advisory Committees have continued to function efficiently and effectively under the exemplary hand of our Chair, Kobus van Graan and other Board members,” he said.