DELICACIES TO DELIGHT THE WORLD
Celebrate Namibia series
A country of two deserts, the Kalahari and Namib, one would not necessarily expect Namibia to produce food to meet domestic needs, let alone export. Yet, thanks to its rich natural resources, innovation, ingenuity and enough perseverance it boasts a range of products sought after globally. Here is a brief look at some of them.
Namibia is not only a country with a big appetite for meat but also a proud exporter of top-quality red meat, especially beef. The vast savanna woodlands of central and northern Namibia allow for extensive cattle farming. Free-range, grass-fed cattle is reared on large tracts of land. In 1991 Namibia became the first African country to ban the use of growth hormones and antibiotics Namibia’s approach to cattle farming and processing has been rewarded: prime cuts are exported to Europe, and Namibia was the first African country to sign a beef export agreement with China in 2015 (exports started in 2019), as well as the first and thus far only African country to export beef to the United States (since early 2020).
Beer is another big thing in Namibia. Its popularity is due partly to the refreshing effect of the malty beverage on a hot summer’s day, partly to the German influence in colonial times and to a large degree to the world-class range produced by Namibia Breweries Limited (NBL). Situated in Windhoek and over 100 years old, NBL still brews according to the traditional German Reinheitsgebot. This 500-year old Bavarian purity law for breweries states that only three ingredients may be used: water, barley and hops. NBL beers are loved at home and abroad. They are exported
to Tanzania, Kenya, Zimbabwe, Zambia, the DRC, Mauritius, St. Helena, the UK, Germany, the USA and Australia.
Namibia’s 1500 kilometre coastline is blessed with the nutrient-rich waters of the Benguela Current System. In terms of biodiversity and biomass this important marine ecosystem is one of the most productive in the world. Therefore, it is not surprising that fish products, mainly frozen but also processed, are Namibia’s largest export industry after mining. Seafood exports include hake, horse mackerel and pilchards as well as rock lobster, crab, oysters and kelp.
Less than 5% of the country’s annual demand for fruit is covered locally. Table grapes are one of the exceptions and they are cultivated so successfully under irrigation that they have become the second most important agricultural export product after
red meat. In fact, only about 1% of the table grape harvest is consumed in Namibia. Most vineyards are situated along the northern bank of the Orange River where the hot summer climate produces deliciously sweet berries. The 2020/21 season yielded an exceptional harvest of almost 39 000 tonnes. Grapes ripen from early November until January. In some years Namibia has a slight advantage of a crucial week or two over South African producers, which means that Namibian table grapes can reach the markets of Europe, the Middle East and North America earlier than their rivals.