TSANDI: The limited availability of potatoes and carrots from local sources has led to a spike in prices, confirmed Mathew Petrus, the Operations Officer of the Agro Marketing and Trade Agency (AMTA) at the Ongwediva Hub.
According to Namibian Press Agency, who spoke to Nampa during the Tsandi Trade Fair and Expo, the scarcity has been ongoing for several months, prompting reliance on imports and consequent price hikes in retail outlets. A noticeable increase in the cost of these staple vegetables has been attributed to the importation, with a seven-kilogram bag of potatoes reaching prices close to N.dollars 200.
Petrus urged local farmers to seize the existing gap in the market by boosting the cultivation of these crops domestically. He also highlighted that over 70 percent of Namibia’s potatoes and carrots are imported, which directly influences their retail pricing.
Further insights were provided by Auguste Fabian, the spokesperson for the Namibian Agronomic Board (NAB), who reported that Namibia’s monthly imports of potatoes amount to roughly 4,000 tonnes. She identified climatic setbacks, particularly the high summer temperatures that hinder local production, leaving winter as the more suitable season for growth. Despite these efforts, the output is insufficient to satisfy the national demand.
Fabian acknowledged that South Africa, a primary source for Namibia’s imports, is also experiencing a shortage, exacerbating the issue with elevated demand and diminished supply, a situation that naturally leads to price surges.
To address the challenge of accessing quality potato seeds, NAB is collaborating with the University of Namibia to breed seeds that are resilient and have higher yield potentials.
On the topic of carrots, Fabian stated that Namibia is over 70 percent self-sufficient in its production. Yet, due to seasonal weather patterns, there tends to be a shortfall during the hotter months of October and early November, prompting the government to open borders for regulated imports to balance the supply.
She concluded by emphasizing the heavy importation of fruits, especially apples and pears, due to unsuitable local climatic conditions, suggesting a strategic pivot for local farmers towards potatoes and fruit cultivation to capitalize on the lucrative market openings.