In an attempt to meet the monthly potato production shortfall, Namibia will have to spend around N$160,2 million on potato imports for the next five months, said the Namibia Agronomic Board. The board is now seeking investment in potato tuber-producing factories to reduce input costs and stimulate local production.
This comes after the country's production forecast for the next five months revealed that local farmers will only produce 8,121 tonnes of potatoes, while the country needs 19,144 tonnes. Potatoes are the most consumed product in the country, with an average demand of 3,800 tonnes every month.
Emilie Abraham, horticulture market manager, said the country is battling high input costs for procuring potatoes – especially among small-scale producers. “Low potato production could be attributed to factors such as the difficulty acquiring potato seeds faced by small-scale farmers.”
She said currently the expected supply would only come from large-scale producers in the country, which could explain the expected deficit of 11,023 tonnes for the next five months.
Farmers are limited financially in procuring inputs required, which discourages them from engaging in potato production, she said. Abraham also stated that the board is in the process of engaging regional and international investors to help set up a local seed-producing factory.
This would make acquiring tubers more convenient for small-scale farmers who do not have the financial muscle to procure them abroad.
This will still not meet the average local demand of around 3,800 tonnes monthly, and leaves Namibia with an average monthly potato shortage of 2,204 tonnes, requiring the country to spend around N$13 million on imports.