Food Security and food self-sufficiency carries a high priority with the Government of Namibia and therefore it is of high importance that food production should be stimulated, developed and maintained in order to feed the Namibian Nation and making the country less dependent on its neighbours. Currently, Namibia imports 80% of its fresh fruit and vegetable requirements (2005). There are now 128 producersí nationwide, producing 60,000 tonnes of fruits and vegetables on 2,000 hectares of land and employing about 2,000 full time employees. Local production of fruits and vegetables has increased from 26,000 tonnes in 2003 to 39,000 tonnes in 2004 and to 60,000 tonnes in 2005. The market currently requires 45,000 tonnes of fresh produce, which shows that Namibia can produce adequate volume of fresh produce to meet local demand. But due to prevailing climatic conditions however, Namibia will never be able to produce all the different types of fruits and vegetables required by the local market. Local demand for fruits and vegetables remains very low and sluggish. Daily per capita consumption currently stands at 72g, which is the equivalent of half an apple a day.
Although Namibia is generally described as one of the driest countries in the world, it is estimated that potentially about 50 000 ha of undeveloped land can be irrigated from the perennial rivers that borders the country and from underground water resources. Developing this land will increase horticulture production significantly. Thus the Government of Namibia embarked on the National Horticulture Development Initiative (NHDI) during 2002.
Accessibility to the local market is a rather more significant obstacle for increased horticulture production than developing extra land. Over time, efficient marketing and distribution channels have been developed from the fresh produce markets in South Africa that could supply the whole of Namibia, competing strongly with the local producers. Thus, development of marketing infrastructure together with marketing and distribution channels within Namibia plays a significant role in opening local markets to local producers.
Retailers and catering companies find it comfortable and easy to order their horticulture produce from the South African fresh produce markets as these institutions can provide a wide range of fresh produce on a continued basis. In order to encourage importers to source locally, regulatory measures to control the unhindered imports will have to be introduced. The Namibia Horticulture Market Share Promotion, being a system to control the importation of fresh fruit and vegetables into Namibia, should increase local sourcing.
Developing the horticulture sector will further benefit the country by creating employment opportunities and stimulate the development of local processing facilities. An increase in local production will also improve the balance of payment since less produce will have to be imported.