Namibia Seeks to Lower Reliance on Potato Imports
Growers of potatoes in Namibia could get a bigger slice of the cake of the highly demanded potatoes in retail stores if they start washing, packaging and resizing, a recent study by the Namibian Agronomic Board (NAB) has revealed, writes Namibian.
The lack of these value additions has led to an underdeveloped value chain in this sector and a concerted effort should be made to improve this, stated the board.
These observations by NAB are expressed in a recent study on the market of Namibian potatoes, which points to an opportunity for local producers to grab a slice of the NAD140m in revenue currently spent annually on the importation of potatoes.
Roughly 20,946 tons of washed, packed and resized potatoes are imported annually, mostly from neighboring South Africa.
NAB researcher, Simeon Ndjelekeni, pointed to the low volumes of domestic production as the main contributor to the heavily reliance on importation for this product in Namibia, but cited several other contributing factors, such as a lack of facilities to ensure the washing, packaging, and sizing of the produce locally, as well as the limited variety of the locally produced potatoes, that have hampered local efforts.
Ndjelekeni said their 2018 survey indicated that 85% of formal potato traders would prefer more washes potatoes as opposed to the unwashed and unbrushed variety. The researcher revealed that, with regards to packaging sizes “most of the potatoes supplied by local producers are packaged as either 7kg or 10kg packs, whereas the formal market demands loose forms of packaging as well, such as 1kg, 2kg, 3kg, 4kg and 5kg and that is rarely done in Namibia.”
The study shows that over a span of four years (from 2015/16 to 2018/19 financial years), the average quantity of potatoes traded in both the primary formal and informal sectors of the Namibian economy topped 35,529 tons, which translated to approximately NAD215m generated in sales of the root vegetable annually. Of that, Namibian producers, on average, shared a stake worth roughly NAD97m, with NAD51m attributable to formal retail vendors and the remaining NAD46m traded in the informal sector.
Potatoes are the most consumed agricultural fresh produce in Namibia, with an annual average market share of about 36% of the total horticultural fresh produce tons produced.