Agriculture (198)

The Neckartal Dam Irrigation Scheme is set to receive N$10 million earmarked for irrigation development in the 2023/24 financial year

Agriculture Minister Calle Schlettwein has dismissed safety concerns raised against Namibian beef products exported from the Northern Communal Area (NCA) abattoirs to Ghana.

Namibia's pork imports have surged by a whopping 66%, with a total of 892,080kg imported in January 2023 compared to 537,411kg in the same period last year.

This growth is due to limited local pork production, resulting in the sector supplementing the shortfall with imports.

According to the Meat Board of Namibia's monthly statistics report, the ongoing ban on pork imports from South Africa has caused a shortage in the market, prompting the implementation of the Pork Market Share Promotion Scheme to aid local producers in accessing the market.

The average pork ceiling price in January 2023 was N$49.50/kg, which represents an increase of N$12.74/kg from the January 2022 level.

On the other hand, Namibia's beef exports decreased by 31.5% in January 2023, falling from 497,178kg in January 2022 to 340,354kg this year. Of the total beef exported in January 2023, 63.3% went to the European Union market, 21.5% to the United Kingdom, 6.9% to China, and the remaining 2.0% to South Africa.

Beef imports also decreased by 55.6%, with figures standing at 61,607kg in January 2023 compared to 138,779kg imported in the same period in 2022. Of these imports, 42.6% originated from the USA, 37.6% from South Africa, 11.4% from Ireland, and 8.5% from the UK.

In the sheep sector, imports amounted to 9,475kg in January 2023 compared to 40,648kg of mutton imported during the same period in 2022. Meanwhile, sheep marketing grew by 4.2%, with 20,727 sheep marketed in January 2023 compared to 19,839 in the same period in 2022.

The rising focus on the growth of the agricultural sector in the country, has sparked an increasing need for individuals, entities, and SMEs to access instruments from lending institutions such as Agricultural Bank of Namibia to set up, upscale or re-invest in their Agribusinesses.

The Oshana Region, which is among the flooded regions in northern Namibia, is plagued with severe shortage of grazing land and waterborne diseases attacking livestock since the start of the floods early January.

The government is planning to lift the ban on timber harvesting and transportation to allow communities to benefit from the natural resource.

The Agricultural Bank of Namibia (AgriBank) has so far provided funding of N$154.7 million in loans to farmers in the two Kavango regions.

Namibia's cattle market posted a 2.3% growth in 2022, reaching a total of 240,463 head, marking the first annual expansion in the past three years, according to Agribank.

As the current rainy season progresses, good rainfall has been recorded in almost all parts of the country. 

As a result, crop farmers are witnessing a productive crop production season with noteworthy growth of maize, sorghum, and pearl millet (mahangu). 

However, amidst the pleasant growth, a crucial aspect of production to undertake, is weeding in their crop fields. 

By definition, a weed is an unwanted plant that grows among desirable crops that a farmer has planted. Weeds have negative effects as they compete with crops for water, nutrients & sunlight. 

Furthermore, weeds can significantly lower the quality of crops by contaminating seeds, while some weeds can be alternative hosts for pests and disease-causing organisms. 

However, when undertaking weed control, which is the actual removal of weeds from the field or garden on which the desired crop is growing. It is essential to ensure that economical and environmentally friendly techniques are used within a reasonable period to allow the main crop to grow well. 

Weed control is important for several reasons. Firstly, it reduces competition for water which is vital for growing crops. Secondly, weed control enables crops to have access to more sunlight which is absorbed by the leaves for chlorophyl to react with Carbon dioxide (CO2), which in turn produces Oxygen (O2) and simple sugars (Glucose or Fructose) that the desired crops translocated to the root system, leaves, stem, or fruits (grains) for storage, and this improves yield potential of the crop. 

Thirdly, when one undertakes weed control correctly and timely, it eliminates the possibility of the weeds becoming hosts of disease causing-organisms and pests. In turn, when pests are reduced, crops grow to maximum potential and the yield quality is not compromised thus enabling a farmer to sell high-quality produce. 

Finally, weed control is essential in the sense that when the weeds are removed manually and left to dry on the field, and decompose they tend to resupply the soil with nutrients such as Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium. 

In conclusion, weed control is a Good Agricultural Practice that must be carried out by crop producers to help them produce good quality crops with a maximum yield potential. 

Lastly, weeds can be further suppressed by practicing crop rotation as crops are affected by different ranges of weeds. Maize may have a certain target range of weeds that may be different from the target range of weeds that attack Tomatoes.

*Hanks Saisai is a Technical Advisor: Crops & Poultry at Agribank

The Meat Corporation of Namibia (Meatco), is facing significant financial challenges, according to a recent organisational review conducted by consultancy firm Ombu Capital.

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