Horticulture Day Has Been Gaining Momentum

The popularity of the National Horticulture Day has gained great momentum over the past few years as the importance of the Namibian Horticulture Market Share Promotion (MSP) becomes more prominent.

The MSP is the minimum percentage that all local traders, wholesalers and caterers must source locally before they are granted an import permit by the NAB for importing horticulture fresh produce from outside our borders.

When the MSP was first introduced and implemented in 2005, the minimum percentage stood at a mere fiver percent. Today, the MSP stands at 41.5 % which is a milestone for the production and uptake of horticulture fresh fruit and vegetables cultivated in Namibia. This statistic is encouraging because it shows the potential for growth for both the horticulture production community as well as establishing a benchmark of local supply for traders, wholesaler and caterers.

“The remarkable growth of the MSP over such a short period of time shows commitment from producers to increase the quality and yield of our crops. Similarly, traders, retailers and caterers show their commitment toward supporting local,” says Michael Iyambo, Chairperson of the National Horticulture Task Team. “Without this synergy, we would be lost in the wilderness with no common goal in sight. Adhering to the MSP means that business growth for producers of fresh horticulture produce in this country is certain while the same can be said for traders, wholesalers and caterers,” he adds.

Iyambo further referred to the recently implemented Special Potato and Onion Scheme, an agreement between the Potato and Onion Producer’s Association (POPA) and the Namibia Association of Traders in Fresh Produce (NATFP) when he addressed a large crowd at the recently held 2014 National Horticulture Day at Otapi . The agreement is implemented and administered by the Namibia Agronomic Board (NAB) and makes provision for the uptake of all locally produced potatoes and onions before permits are issued for these commodities to be imported from outside the country. “The implementation of this Scheme has been so successful that the borders have been closed for the importation of onions until mid-November 2014,” Iyambo told the audience. “This is a powerful example of what is possible for growth at home and for producing our own to feed our people,” he said. The NAB will monitor the progress of the Special Potato and Onion Scheme closely, which may lead to identifying and including other horticulture commodities in the future.

The National Horticulture Day was once again celebrated recently with a gathering of producers and traders from across Namibia in the town of Outapi in the Omusati region. The National Horticulture Day is an annual event organised by the NAB) that recognises the achievements and milestones in the production and trade of locally produced horticulture fresh produce. The 2014 event was held in the region of the winning Emerging Horticulture Producer of the Year, Epafras Hilengwa and attended by the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry, Joseph Iita, the Governor of the Omusati region, Sophia Shaningwa, the Vice Chair of the NAB, Sirrka Iileka, the Managing Director of Agro-Marketing Trading Agency (AMTA), Lungameni Lucas and representatives of AGRIBUSDEV and Agribank, who were also co-sponsors of the event with the NAB.

Shaningwa addressed the gathering and encouraged producers and traders to grow and sustain their industry so that Namibia can become a food secure nation. Recognising that the industry is long term, she said, “make sure that the knowledge and skill you have are given to the next generation so that we can keep feeding the nation.” Emphasising the importance of food security, the Permanent Secretary said on behalf of the Minister of Agriculture, Water and Forestry, John Mutorwa that “The horticulture industry in the Republic of Namibia is a proud example of what can be achieved with g vision and the discipline in executing well laid plans. Such dedication and determination is what is required to make us a food secure nation and I applaud the efforts and collaboration of producers and traders in making this a reality.”

For the first time, a Medium Scale Producer Category was included and awarded to producers of fresh fruit and vegetables in addition to the Emerging or Small Scale Producer and Large Scale Producer categories that have been awarded for the past 11 years, while AMTA sponsored a new segment for Traders.

After the award ceremony, all producers and traders spent the afternoon in the fields of the winning Emerging Scale Producer of the Year Epafras Hilengwa at the 2nd Chance Farm where he produces commodities that include tomatoes, sweet potatoes, watermelon, green peppers, butternut, paw-paws and mangoes. “Hilengwa’s emerging production area is a showcase of what can be achieved with determination, hard-work and will and is proof of the potential that the horticulture sector in Namibia holds toward reaching food security,” said Fidelis Mwazi, National Horticulture Manager at the Namibia Agronomic Board (NAB). “These initiatives are what the National Horticulture Day is all about and for that we will always keep local horticulture production moving,” he concluded.

Source : New Era