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ATF Guide

Agri-Trade Policy Guide For Namibia


In international trade, market access is the ability to enter a foreign market by selling goods and services in another country. Namibia and her partners in the Southern African Customs Union (SACU) have negotiated bilateral, regional and multilateral agreements on agricultural markets access. However, experience suggests that it is not enough to negotiate agricultural market access conditions. There is need to translate such trading arrangements into benefits through their effective implementation and maximizing opportunities created.

As many Namibians are now becoming engaged in agriculture as a platform to create jobs, enhance livelihoods and ensure food security, it is becoming evident that joining regional and international agreements as traders can expand their agri-businesses and increase competitiveness. Access to information on agricultural trade policies, regulations and measures enable agricultural stakeholders, especially farmers and traders, to take advantage of market access opportunities. The challenge faced by Namibian stakeholders in the agricultural value chain is the absence of a single source of trade information related to import, export, transit and transhipment of agricultural goods across borders of Namibia.

The agriculture sector is an integral part of Namibia’s international trade landscape entailing live animals and commodities such as beef, frozen chicken and crops. Importing agricultural goods in response to domestic demand to meet food security requirements as well as to scale up production through access to efficient inputs is equally important. For example, through rules of origin, Namibia can import agricultural inputs to add value to the production of final products for sale in preferential markets abroad. Therefore, information related to access to markets abroad is pivotal.

Under the project titled ‘Evidence-based and Coordinated Agri-Food Trade Policy Development in Namibia’ (ECAP) funded by the German Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development, the Agricultural Trade Forum (ATF) has developed this E-Guide on Agri-Trade Policy for use by all agricultural stakeholders. This first edition provides general information on Namibia’s agricultural sector in terms of production and trade, the policy and regulatory environment on agriculture and key provisions affecting trade in agriculture in Namibia’s bilateral, regional and multilateral trading arrangements.

This first edition (2023) is work in progress to be maintained and updated regularly as more information becomes available, new changes emerge and feedbacks received.

Overview of the agricultural sector

Although the agricultural sector’s contribution to Namibia’s gross domestic product (GDP) is relatively small, the agricultural sector remains the backbone of the Namibian economy and prosperity for many Namibians.
• Agricultural sector (including forestry) contributed around 7 percent to gross domestic product (GDP) in 202I
• Agricultural activities are dominated by livestock farming, accounting for around 3.9 percent of GDP in 2021. Cattle, goats, sheep and pigs, contribute close to 70% of overall agricultural output value,
• Crop farming and forestry accounts for around 3 percent of agricultural GDP, mainly consisting of cereals, fruits and horticulture products. The horticulture covers fresh produce such as tomatoes, potatoes, carrots, cabbage, butternuts, beans and groundnuts, dates, grapes, watermelons, span speck, citrus, etc. Cereal crops include maize, pearl millet (mahangu), sorghum, wheat and sunflower.

  • Livestock farming is the most dominant agricultural activity contributing 3.9 percent of total agricultural output in 2021.
  • Crop farming and forestry contributed 3 percent of total agricultural output in 2021.
  • Commercial farming is complemented by a large informal sector for subsistence, situated mainly in the communal land (subsistence farming). Agriculture in the communal areas remains vital for the livelihood of rural households, mostly headed by women.

Agriculture Employment

Over 70% of the Namibian population is dependent on the agricultural sector for their livelihoods. The sector contributes 23% of Namibia’s total employment in 2018, mostly rural women.

Table 1: Composition of Employment by Sector, 2012 — 2018


Source: Labour Force Survey, 2018

The agricultural, forestry and fishing sector accounts for around 23 percent of total employment in Namibia.

Agriculture & Vulenrabilities

Major factors affecting the sector, largely impacting on agricultural productivity are:

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