Countries promulgate policies that are aimed to help them address first their domestic socio-economic imperatives before extending to the regional, continental and even international imperatives. This has manifested in many policy measures especially dealing with imports and exports in the world over. Since 2005, Namibia, through its state-owned entity called the Namibian Agronomic Board (NAB) operates a market share promotion (MSP) which is a policy decision aimed at encouraging domestic production and achieving food self-sufficiency. The sellers (retailers and wholesalers including traders) of strategic agricultural products are forced by this legislative tool to source a minimum of 47% of products from local farmers, prior to qualifying for an import permit in a specific period. If the NAB views that the country has sufficient local production or when farmers are harvesting, it institutes border closures to encourage importers to first source locally and not do stock piling. The border closure for importation of grains products such as maize has been practiced by Namibia for many years, however, it does impact on regional value chains for other countries in the region that are integrated with Namibian businesses.
The relatively good rains received in late 2019 and early 2020 has led to a good maize crop for countries like Namibia, South Africa and others in the region. Given the good expected crop, the NAB has issued a notification to its trading partners indicating the intention to close the border for the importation of maize into Namibia as from 01 June 2020. According to the notification, the country has an annual white maize consumption of 130 000 tons and is expecting to harvest a total of 64 000 tons for white maize to be marketed and locally delivered to millers and Government’s National Strategic Food Reserves. The border closure for the importation of white maize will remain in place between 01 June 2020 and 31 October 2020, depending on the intake by millers and National Strategic Food Reserves. The NAB has emphasized that the border closure for the importation of grain should not be viewed as a measure related to the COVID-19 pandemic, but as part of the developmental agenda for increased white maize production in Namibia, as it has been in the past.
By: Dr Sifiso Ntombela,