The situation has resulted in commercial onion farmers in the Kavango Region being stranded with a huge amount of freshly produced onions due to a lack of market because vegetable outlets import from South Africa. Namibian farmers have been selling to neighbouring countries such as Angola but the northern neighbour also has suspended its import of onions. New Era understands that Angola has shut doors on onions because it recorded a bumper onion harvest due to favourable climatic conditions.
At the moment, the market determines the prices of the produce without taking into consideration production costs hence farmers suffer and do not get fair returns on investment. Sometimes farmers are offered prices lower than production costs, making their farming business unsustainable. “For us to produce a bag of onions, it costs N$14.50 for example. Now the retailer is saying I need your bag of onion landed in Windhoek for N$13. It is very low, and they tell us if you don’t want, we will import the same product which will cost them N$13 and they sell it for between N$30 and N$40 a bag. It is not only us suffering, but the consumers as well,” complained Hans Nghixulifwa, the Managing Director of Shikunino Trading Enterprises, who is the service provider for Ndonga Linena Irrigation Project. The affected farmers are at Musese, Ndonga Linena and Shitemo irrigation projects. The farmers find themselves with piles of onions as they have been without a market to absorb their produce.
“We have a lot of onions and we don’t have a market. People cannot import because of over-production of onions. The shops want to buy at N$20 per bag, but we want N$30 per bag minimum,” complained Tulio Pereira, the Director of Musese during President Hifikepunye Pohamba’s visit to Green Scheme Projects dotting the Kavango Region. The Terence Spyron, Shitemo farmer manager, shared similar sentiments saying he too has no market for his onions. During his visit to the irrigation projects, President Pohamba advised the farmers not to over produce horticultural products which cannot be consumed by the local market. He urged them to diversify crops so they can market their products which are in high demand on the local market. He also used the opportunity to encourage farmers to continue farming and ensure food security and sufficiency in Namibia.