TO MEET the monthly potato production shortfall, the country will have to spend around N$160,2 million on potato imports for the next five months.
This was revealed by 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,” Abraham said.
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 said 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 effort would not only assist local producers to access potato tubers easily, but also boost potato production in the country and eventually meet local demand,” she said.
The expected deficit was not only recorded this year.
Abraham said last year’s harvest was only able to meet 21% of domestic potato needs, while the remaining 79% had to be imported.
She said most of the country’s potato shortfall is sourced from South Africa.
For the next five months, she said the country will spend more than N$160 million to make up for the deficit.
Abraham said the board is ensuring farmers have market security for their produce by closing borders when there is sufficient supply.
For the next five months as of this month, the country is expected to have a monthly average production of 1 624 tonnes, with September expected to have the highest output of 2 215 tonnes.
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.