FAO GIEWS Country Brief on Namibia (06-July-2016)

Reference Date: 06-July-2016


  1. Cereal production in 2016 is estimated to have increased slightly, but still remains well below average

  2. Cereal prices significantly higher than previous year, mostly driven by record high levels in South Africa

  3. Food security conditions worsened due to earlier‑than‑normal depletion of household stocks, higher cereal prices and poor agricultural output in 2016

Cereal production in 2016 estimated slightly higher than previous year, though still well below average

With the harvest complete, 2016 cereal production is estimated to have increased by 10 percent compared to the drought‑reduced output of 2015. However, at the current level, total cereal production is still 34 percent below the average of the past five years. The bulk of this year’s increase mainly results from a higher millet output, with only a small increase registered for maize, mostly from the commercial sector. Severely suppressed seasonal rains, on account of the 2015/16 El Niño episode, is the main reason behind the poor agricultural performance in 2016.

Although there was a moderate recovery of pastures in some locations as a result of two consecutive poor rainy seasons, livestock conditions are generally poor, with the number of cattle estimated to have decreased by between 5 and 10 percent in 2016.

Regional drought pushes up cereal prices

The impact of the regional drought and the reduced domestic harvests in 2015 and 2016 has put sustained and sharp upward pressure on food prices. With the bulk of the national maize requirement satisfied by imports, mostly from South Africa where maize prices reached record levels earlier this year, maize meal prices have increased on an annual basis by between 18 and 46 percent in May 2016. Sorghum and millet prices are also higher compared to their year‑earlier values.

The depreciation of the Namibian Dollar (NAD) has also applied added pressure to costs of imports from outside of the region (as the NAD is pegged to the South African rand).

Food security conditions worsen in 2016

As a result of a second successive poor agricultural performance in 2016, the number of persons at risk of food insecurity has increased by 26 percent to 729 143 persons. While the below average harvest has adversely impacted food availability, the high cereal prices are also worsening access, and also resulting in a deterioration of terms of trade for livestock-based households that is further exacerbated by the poor livestock conditions. Currently, the Government is planning to assist 639 914 persons.