N.dollars 15 million worth of onions and potatoes exported

21 Feb 2015 12:00pm
WINDHOEK, 21 FEB (NAMPA) – Over 3 000 tonnes of onions and 383 tonnes of potatoes were exported between April and August 2014 under Namibia's Special Potato and Onion Scheme.
These exports have a combined value of more than N.dollars 15 million, said Fidelis Mwazi, the senior manager for Market Promotion and Research at the Agro-Marketing and Trade Agency (AMTA).
He said in a media statement issued on Friday that the implementation of the scheme is so successful that the Namibian borders were closed for the importation of onions from June 2014 to the end of December 2014.
“This is positive for the agronomic industry in Namibia, because with the success of this scheme, we’ll start including other commodities which will stimulate production even more and take us one step closer to being less dependent on imports of the food that we can easily grow locally,” said Mwazi, the former National Horticulture Manager at the Namibia Agronomic Board (NAB).
He said that the agronomic sector in the country is seeing tremendous growth, and the role of the NAB in creating an environment for the sector to thrive has been very important. This is evident in the way that locally-produced potatoes and onions are marketed.
The Special Potato and Onion Agreement between the Potato and Onion Producers’ Association (POPA) and the Namibian Association of Traders in Fresh Produce (NATFP) was implemented on 01 April 2014. This agreement makes provision for the production and purchase of grade one normal-medium, large-medium and large potatoes, and grade one normal small-medium, medium and large onions for consumption in Namibia.
Exclusions to the agreement include extra-large onions, small onions, pickled onions, red onions, spring onions and washed baby potatoes.
The administration of the new scheme necessitated the NAB to split the normal import permit requirements for fruit and vegetables and develop a special permit for potatoes and onions only, according to Mwazi.
He explained that a special potato and onion import permit is valid for only 14 days, which gives the NAB an opportunity to gauge local capacity for the next two-week cycle. This effectively means that the potato and onion industries are now subject to more intense administration and management at the NAB.
“We have to keep track of local consumption and whether our producers were able to meet market needs. This market demand and production capability equation is reviewed every two weeks and if local production is sufficient, no special permits for the import of potatoes and onions are issued,” he added.