Border remains open for importation of potatoes

Potatoes maintained their place on the open import list as the Namibian Agronomic Board (NAB) closed the border for the importation of six of the 20 horticultural products on the special controlled products list for the period 1-30 April.

This underscores the challenges local farmers are facing in meeting demand for the staple crop and seven other crops.

According to a notice to all horticulture traders issued by chief executive Fidelis Mwazi on 25 March, the border is closed for the importation of all types and sizes of butternut, cabbage, English cucumber, green pepper, pumpkin and watermelon, except for exclusions.

Mwazi said this is in line with the Agronomic Industry Act and the Namibian Horticulture Market Share Promotion Scheme and regulations to spur the growth of the local nascent horticulture industry and to protect local producers against competition from cheap and sometimes inferior imports.

According to NAB spokesperson Auguste Fabian, the board and the World Food Programme (WFP) last week 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.

“This milestone reflects the hard work of smallholder and commercial farmers, driving a combined 45% self-sufficiency in agronomic and horticultural crops,” she said.

To complement local production where farmers do not fully meet demand, Mwazi put six products on a pro rata import basis.
“Importation of all types and sizes of coloured pepper will be allowed at 20%, except for exclusions, with the importation of all types and sizes of beetroot at 30% except for exclusions,” he directed.

Also at 30% importation are all types and sizes of fresh or chilled spinach.

Forty percent imports of all types and sizes of sweet potato and of lettuce (iceberg) will only be allowed during the the month, while only 50% if all types of sweetcorn can be brought into the country, except for exclusions.

Mwazi let eight crops open for importation without restrictions although the 47% market share promotion (MSP) applies. This is an indication that local farmers could not produce enough of these crops to meet local demand.

These crops are carrot, gem squash, onion, potato washed, jam tomato, cocktail tomato, round tomato and sweet melon.

The MSP scheme is a Growth-at-Home strategy implemented by the NAB and aims at stimulating horticultural production and promoting sales of locally produced fresh fruit and vegetables by encouraging importers such as wholesalers, catering companies and retailers to source locally.

The scheme serves as a prerequisite to obtaining an import permit, which means that only importers who have achieved 47% MSP are allowed to import horticultural products without restrictions.
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