Agronomic board retains potatoes on open list

For the second month running, the Namibian Agronomic Board (NAB) has left the border open for the importation of eight crops without restrictions, including potatoes, although the 47% market share promotion (MSP) applies.

This was said by NAB chief executive Fidelis Mwazi in a notice to horticulture traders issued on 22 April, in which he directed that the border will be open for the importation of carrot, gem squash, potato washed, jam tomato, cocktail tomato, round tomato, watermelon and sweet melon for the period 1 to 31 May.

According to the regulator, this is an indication that local producers were unable to produce enough of these products to meet local demand during the month, as some of the crops may be going out of season.

This comes a month after NAB and the World Food Programme held a celebratory event at Zita-Mutumba village in the Zambezi region to mark Namibia’s impressive achievement of 55% self-sufficiency in local vegetable production.

In line with the Agronomic Industry Act and the Namibian Horticulture MSP Scheme rules and regulations, Mwazi closed the border for the importation of six special controlled products while allowing pro rata importation of six others.

The MSP scheme is a growth-at-home strategy to stimulate horticultural production in Namibia and promote sales of locally produced fresh fruit and vegetables, by encouraging importers like wholesalers, catering companies and retailers to source locally.

The minimum MSP of 47% also serves as a prerequisite to obtaining an import permit, which means that only traders/importers who have achieved their minimum MSP are allowed to import horticultural products unrestricted.

This is designed to protect local farmers and Namibia’s nascent agronomic sector against competition from cheap imports, which might be of inferior quality too.

“The border will be closed for the importation of all types and sizes of beetroot, butternut, cabbage, green pepper, pumpkin and spinach,” Mwazi directed.

To make up for inadequate local production, Mwazi directed that only 20% of all types of green pepper can be imported during the month, except for exclusions.

In addition, the regulator allowed for the importation of 30% of all types and sizes of English cucumber, as well as sweet potato, except for inclusions, and also 30% of all types and sizes of onion, except for inclusions until 15 May.

Where there is the biggest deficit, Mwazi allowed the importation of 50% of all types and sizes of sweetcorn and lettuce (iceberg), except for exclusions but stressed that this notice is subject to changes.

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