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Agriculture in Namibia

As soon as evaporation increases by tenfold in comparison to the precipitation, then an area is classified as desert. Almost half of Namibia’s surface is therefore classified as desert. With one big difference – this desert is very much alive!

A vast variety of small animals, rodents and antelope, predators and even the majestic elephant and rhino survive in the desert thanks to an incredible survival mechanism. It is therefore also not strange that agricultural farmers settled in these areas and continued with successful farming. The reclamation of wild unspoiled surface areas brought technical requirement with it. Such as water supply, fencing of areas for useful pastures, the confrontation of predator and various other wild animals, to name but a few.

Namibia’s agriculture enjoys in today’s economic climate a high standard in technology, financial and scientific level. The southwest of Namibia receives almost no rain. Rainfall increases to the north of the country with the central part of the country receiving on average 350mm of rain and the far north up to 400mm. These are only averages and they can vary from year to year depending on rainfall. Long and devastating droughts are therefore nothing unusual to the inhabitants of Namibia.

Vast areas with sparsely grown grasses characterize the south of Namibia. To the north it is noticeable that the grass vegetation becomes more and more luxuriant. Namibia has become known to be a country of the ruminants! Naturally grown grasses form the basic food source in the animal world.

Various breeds of sheep, known to be more frugal than cattle, are farmed in the dryer regions of Namibia. The Karakul sheep is particularly undemanding and is bred solely for its pelt. Special breeds of goat and sheep are bread for the production of meat. The Boerbockgoat, the Dorper and Damaralandsheep are only but a few to name.

The central highland and the savannah of the northern Kalahari are most suitable for cattle farming.
The rearing of weaned calves on natural pastures until they are ready to go to slaughter, especially oxen, are a particular important part of this branch of cattle rearing. Herd book breeding of goat/sheep/cattle is of very high standard and it is important to deliver commercial farmers with high quality breeding material. Stud associations are internationally connected to ensure and achieve genetic progress. Most popular cattle breeds are Brahman, Bonsmara and Simmental. Various other breeds from different parts of the world have also been introduced and are successfully farmed. Farmers specializing in the meat market invariable make use of specific crossings to ensure high end quality meat.

Namibia is a country that puts great emphasis on the veterinarian status. The central and southern part of Namibia corresponds to the European standard. The north of the country still experiences problems with foot-and-mouth disease, limiting the export opportunities of cattle greatly.
Namibia’s total population reaches approximately 2 Million. 80 % of meat products are exported as a result. South Africa is a preferred and traditional market for export, especially livestock. Lamb, goat and beef is also processed in Namibia and then exported to its Southern neighbor. The “Lome Agreement” allows Namibia to export to Europe. A very lucrative business, but also associated with the fulfillment of very high demands. Regulations pertaining to livestock farming and meat processing, which are applied in Europe, are also adhered by in Namibia. No Growth hormones are allowed to be administered, farming needs to be breed specific and needs to be healthy and environmentally friendly. Namibia’s export slaughterhouse requirements confirm to international standards and have been classified as world class.
Namibia’s share in the world markets is minimal and therefore Namibia ensures only top-quality meat is exported.

The highly valuable pieces are vacuum sealed and stored at best temperatures of 0 – 4 degrees Celsius for at least six weeks, before being exported to niche markets. For the connoisseur in Europe this meat, which was produced totally organic and then expertly slaughtered and packed, is of very high quality.

Livestock farming is the most important part of Namibian agriculture, but various other activities are also excised. Because of its climatic conditions, Namibia is not a country where growing crops is carried out on a large scale. The North of the country, which receives the highest rainfall, and which has the benefit of the ever-flowing boarder rivers, has extensive agricultural potential but is currently still totally underutilized.
Namibia produces only half of its maize demand; the rest is imported. The cultivation of Sorghum in the northerly parts of the country is limited to local small farmers yet plays an important part in the food supply to these areas. Grains, Wheat, sugar cane and pulses are produced in very small quantities. The cultivation of fruit and vegetables has however increased significantly and can Namibia soon be on its way in being self-sufficient.

Poultry farming has also yet to be cultivated on a higher scale. Farms usually produce for own consumption. Namibia has recently acquired a modern poultry farm which not only satisfies the Namibian market only but also export markets.
The “Dairy Ranch” system, which produced milk and dairy products, has given way to more modern and intensive methods. Under the old system millions of pounds of butter were exported. Now almost 50% of milk and dairy demands are imported from South Africa and other international countries.

To the south of Namibia, close to the Orange River, a new lucrative specialty has developed in the last few years: Table Grapes. Early in the season Namibia exports delicious grapes to Europe. A very lucrative and rapidly spreading business.

Unlike many other countries in the world, quite a large part of farms in Namibia is privately owned. An essential part of wildlife co-exists with agricultural farming and it is up to farm owners to practice game management. Active nature conservation forms an integral part for Namibian farmers.