NAMIBIA – The Namibian Agronomic Board (NAB) has hinted at plans to open the border to allow the importation of white maize to supplement supplies from local producers as well as cushion itself from food insecurity.

NAB chief executive officer Fidelis Mwazi made the notice to millers and producers while briefing the availability of locally produced white maize.

According to him, following a recent assessment, the country had 19 334 tonnes of white maize available, including three weeks of grain stock.

He added that the revealed stock included 2 724 tonnes still with the farmers and yet to be marketed but excluding maize from the Zambezi region, and 16 610 tonnes that were with the millers as of 31 July.

However, Mwazi said the opening of the border which is intended to commence on 14 August will only be permitted once all the locally produced white maize grain available for marketing has been bought by millers, and once all millers have three weeks’ maize stock cover or less.

“The national three weeks’ grain stock for the 2022/23 season is 11 617 tonnes, and the available excess grain as at 31 July was 7 717 tonnes,” said Mwazi, adding that the national daily average white maize grain demand for the period April-June 2023 is 600 tonnes, he noted.

The country is cushioning itself from food insecurity after FAO warned of impending food insecurity in the country, following its report indicating that 750 000 people in Namibia may face acute food insecurity in 2023.

Additionally, FAO said in its latest crop prospects and food situation that high food prices and localized weather-induced shortfalls in cereal production expected this year will increase the number of food-insecure people in the country.

According to the notice, about 2 000 tonnes of white maize available in the Zambezi region will be bought by the Agro-Marketing and Trade Agency (Amta) for national strategic food reserves, and will therefore not prevent the opening of the border for the importation of maize.

Elaborating, Mwazi warned that permits for the importation of white maize will only be issued by the NAB to millers, but warned millers with outstanding farmers’ payments and statutory levies they would not be issued with import permits until they addressed the issue of non-compliance.

Finally, Mwazi urged producers in Kavango, Karst, and Central production zones, who are yet to sell the maize that they have been given until 11 August 2023 to market their maize to millers, asking them to notify NAB of their situation if they would harvest their produce after the commencement of the open border period.

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