NAMIBIAN Agronomic Board chairperson Michael Iyambo said the trade performance of the horticulture industry has been increasing over the years, despite the challenges encountered by the industry regarding tied climatic conditions.
The Namibian Agronomic Board embarked on an initiative to develop the horticulture sector in the country in 2002.
The primary objective of horticulture is to increase local production of fruit and vegetables and to reduce dependence on imported horticulture fresh produce.
Iyambo further said the industry as a whole has been growing from strength to strength over the years, even though there is a serious need for increasing local production.
The production of horticulture exported in 2017/18 grew to 13 946 tonnes while the production that was marketed locally increased to 28 599 tonnes in 2017/18 from 24 442 tonnes in 2016/17.
However, horticulture imports remain a concern to the Namibian economy, due to the fact that Namibian imports increased by 12,1% in 2017/18, as 52 853 tonnes were imported in 2017/18 compared to 47 143 tonnes in 2016/17.
Of the products exported in 2017/18, 80% were grapes, followed by onions. A report shows that 2017/18 recorded the highest production exports of 55 358 tonnes while 2011/12 indicated the lowest exports with 22 429 tonnes.
Based on the 2017/18 fiscal year, domestic demand for horticulture amounted to N$642 million, of which 34% was production marketed locally whereas 66% were imports for the period, indicating a need to raise production, added Iyambo.
The most productive vegetable exported to South Africa and Angola is onions and the most productive fruits exported are grapes.
According to statistics fruits portray a great opportunity of growth, but local purchases of fruits are less due to the little amount of fruits in the country. However there is a great opportunity for increased production.
Iyambo stressed that the areas in the country most suitable for the production of all fruits and vegetables are the Orange River at 52%, Karst at 25%, Kavango and the south at 5%, with north-central at 4% and Zambezi at 1%.
There has been fluctuations in the market share promotion of horticulture over the years, averaging to 44% in 2017, 45% in 2016, 51% in 2015, 45,25% in 2014, 33,75% in 2013 and 39,25% in 2012. The year that recorded the highest market share promotion threshold was 2015 while the lowest was 2013.