Namibia: Record White Maize Harvest Expected

NAMIBIAN white maize farmers are expecting an exceptional harvest this year.

According to estimates by the Namibia Agricultural Union (NAU), more than 95 000 tonnes of white maize are expected to be harvested this season.

"Between 70 and 80% of this expected produce has already been delivered to millers," said NAU in the latest issue of its weekly newsletter.

The union said harvest forecasts were rather shaky at the start of the rainy season, as the rains were late, contrary to the weather forecasts that indicated good rainfall early in the season.

"To ascertain a stable maize harvest, more and more maize is being produced under irrigation. During the 2021 production season, up to 50% of the total white maize crop came from irrigated fields," said the newsletter.

Namibia's annual maize requirement averages 200 000 tonnes. To be self-sufficient, however, the average annual production will have to increase even further, the union noted.

According to NAU, over the last few years, many new irrigation farmers have joined the maize production sector and due to the favourable weather conditions, dryland hectares also increased.

Currently, world markets offer high prices. The war in Ukraine supports this trend and Namibia currently receives higher maize prices, which further encourages production, the union added.

According to the newsletter, some of the early harvest had quality problems, with a good quantity of second-grade maize delivered this year.

"South Africa also experienced similar problems, however, the quality of later Namibian plantings was very good.

"Mills are overstocked and at times lack sufficient storage space for the harvest supplied. This, in turn, requires logistics planning to coordinate grain loads and avoid stopping the harvesting process," said the union.

In Namibia, an average of 16 000 tonnes of white maize is milled per month. Currently, some farmers also store their maize in temporary silos, but this can be a risk for producers, as the maize quality can deteriorate.

There are prospects that the total maize harvest in Namibia will continue to rise while favourable climatic conditions continue, prompting the need to provide logistics for increasing harvests, especially in good rainy seasons.

There is also a strong drive among certain producers to be allowed to grow GMO maize in future. This way, Namibian maize farmers can also gain access to the latest technology available.

"However, to grow GMOs in Namibia, producers must meet a variety of requirements. Local producers are currently entering the process and will hopefully obtain permission to use the latest technology in the near future," said the farmers' union.

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