We cannot depend on imports all the time: Mutorwa

10 Mar 2016 17:40pm
WINDHOEK, 10 MAR (NAMPA) – A country that continues importing basic foodstuff is a country in danger, warned Minister of Agriculture, Water and Forestry John Mutorwa.
He was speaking during the opening of the annual general meeting (AMG) of the Agriculture, Marketing and Trade Agency (AMTA) on Thursday.
“We must put in all efforts to produce food ourselves. We cannot depend on imports all the time and should not relax that we can get everything from somewhere else.
“You might have the money in the pocket but cannot buy, because exporting countries might have only enough for its own people,” he warned.
Namibia is importing most food and other goods from South Africa, China, Switzerland, Botswana, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Namibia exports raw materials and imports processed and finished goods from abroad, according to statistics issued by the Namibia Statistics Agency (NSA) last year.
Mutorwa noted that Government has created entities such as AMTA, Namibia Agronomic Board (NAB), and Agricultural Business Development Agency (AgriBusDev) upon which the private sector can build a strong value chain network and system for the agronomic sector to benefit from the Namibian economy and its people.
In order to stabilise production and ensure that there is a consistent supply of fresh produce, the minister emphasised that AMTA took the first step by engaging stakeholders in the development of the cropping programme for both the Ongwediva and the Rundu fresh produce hubs.
The Ongwediva Fresh Produce Hub, for example, facilitates the sale of produce from 23 producers of the Olushandja Farmers’ Association to AMTA. Most of these crop farmers are producing under a cropping agreement between AMTA, whereby the hub provides farmers with farming input and the farmers are then expected to sell to the hub.
Mutorwa emphasised that AMTA together with Namport engaged grape farmers in exploring the possibility of exporting grapes through the Lüderitz Port, which was an excellent initiative when it was realised. A trial was done on the transhipment of Namibian table grapes via the Lüderitz Port for the first time to the European market last December. During this trial, it has been established that time taken for the exported grapes to reach Europe from the Lüderitz Port to Rotterdam Port is only 16 days, compared to the route from Cape Town to Rotterdam Port that takes 27 days.
“This is a crucial time for AMTA, as activities are put in action as well as the building of the organisational structure and capacity to facilitate agricultural marketing processes, storage and trading.
“Namibia is known for a resilient and turbulent economic and weather/climate, hence it is important that we capitalise on the successful foundations laid since the inception of this organisation (AMTA) and ensure that it is efficient and meets the country’s needs,” Mutorwa advised.