Agriculture offers tremendous opportunities for contributing to economic growth, job creation, skills development and technological advancement. It has the potential to not only decrease inequality, but also improve living standards and ensure food security, both at national and household levels. The government has identified agriculture as one of three priority areas, and unlocking the potential of the agricultural sector is one of the goals of the Economic Advancement pillar of the government’s Harambee Prosperity Plan II.

Agriculture serves as the mainstay industry of the country: around 70% of the population depends on it directly or indirectly. It is also one of the largest direct and indirect employers with a contribution of about 6.6% To the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

The Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Land Reform is the line ministry for agriculture, while various sub-sectors of the industry are regulated by statutory bodies. The interests of producers of the various sub-sectors are represented by member organisations.

The agricultural sector consists of a well-developed commercial sector, with around 4,000 commercial farms countrywide, complemented by a large informal sector characterised by subsistence farming. Livestock farming dominates and accounts for more than half of Namibia’s total agricultural output.

One of Namibia’s largest global competitive advantages in terms of beef production may well be the fact that Namibia’s cattle are reared entirely on natural grazing. Namibian beef is of a high quality and free of artificial stimulants. Beef accounts for close to 60% of agricultural exports to markets in South Africa, the United States of America, Great Britain, China, the European Union and Norway. In fact, in March 2020 Namibia became the first and only African country to export beef to the United States of America.

Small-stock farming of sheep and goats for meat and karakul pelts is practiced mainly in the arid south of the country, though the national stock has been reduced significantly as a result of a prolonged drought. South Africa is the main market for exporting sheep, but investigations are underway to explore other potential markets such as the UAE and beyond.

Namibia is also known to be a major pork producer. A number of small pig farms produce around 50% for the local market. The pork sector is protected under the Pork Market Share Promotion Scheme (PMSPS) which has been extended until 30 September 2028.

There is an urgent need to speed up modernisation and transformation within Namibia’s agriculture sector, and need always entails opportunities as well. Namibia is very optimistic that much can be achieved with effective public private partnerships and the right investments aimed at transforming agriculture into a vertically and horizontally integrated sector.

Green Scheme Policy

The government’s Green Scheme Policy was devised to attract investment and boost food production through irrigation schemes in communal areas in the north-central and northern parts of the country which have perennial rivers. Agro projects have also been established along the Orange River on the southern border and at Hardap Dam, 270 km south of Windhoek, and Naute Dam near Keetmanshoop. The policy aims to:

Increase agricultural production and sector contribution to the GDP

Promote investment in food production and the agro industry

Mobilise private and public capital for investment in agriculture

  • Promote food security at national and household levels
  • Diversify agricultural production and products for domestic and export markets
  • Promote research and adaptation of technology to increase productivity
  • Promote value addition and job creation
  • Promote skills development and technology transfer
  • Eight of the 12 green scheme irrigation projects acrossthe country are managed by the Agriculture Business

Development Agency (AgribusDev), a statutory body, while four are leased to the private sector as prescribed in the Green Scheme Policy.

Agronomy and Horticulture 

Despite its arid environment, Namibia produces a variety of crops, including white maize, wheat and mahangu (pearl millet). Around 50% of Namibia’s white maize crop is produced in the Grootfontein-Otavi-Tsumeb triangle under dryland conditions. White maize is produced under irrigation at several Green Schemes, mainly along the Okavango River and below Hardap Dam. Mahangu (pearl millet) is cultivated under dryland conditions in the northern-central communal areas which are subject to periodic droughts.

The horticultural industry is regulated by the Namibian Agronomic Board, a statutory body which is mandated to promote the industry and to facilitate the production, processing, storage and marketing of controlled products in Namibia.

Fresh agricultural produce includes tomatoes, potatoes, carrots, cabbage, butternuts, beans and groundnuts, dates, grapes, watermelons and others under irrigation. Cereal crops include maize, pearl millet (mahangu), wheat and sunflower. Increased horticultural production indicates that massive opportunities still exist within the sector. Today, there are about 500 farmers (330 smallholders) in the. country, but Namibia remains a net importer of horticultural products, mainly fruits.

The trade in white maize, wheat, mahangu and products derived from these cereals is controlled by the Namibian Agronomic Board with the aim to encourage increased local production and to meet the country’s food security goals.

A variety of vegetables are grown by commercial farmers, while vegetables are also produced at several Green Schemes. Although the local production of vegetables has increased significantly since independence, Namibia still imports about 65% of its vegetables, mainly from South Africa. Less than 5% of the country’s annual demand for fruit is produced locally. Namibia’s table grapes, produced along the Orange River in the far south, are the second most important agricultural export product in terms of value. Important export markets are Europe, the UK, the Middle East and North America.

The market share promotion (MPS) was introduced in 2005 to promote local production of horticulture products. Currently, fresh produce traders must buy 47% from local producers before they can obtain a permit to import the remaining 53%. The Agro-Marketing and Trade Agency (AMTA), an organisation under the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Land Reform, is responsible for the management and trading of agricultural produce in Namibia.


Other sub-sectors include the dairy and poultry industries, game farming, trophy hunting and the export of charcoal – also a well-known product which earned Namibia an export volume of 160 000 tonnes in 2016. The country currently ranks among the top ten charcoal exporting countries worldwide, with core markets in South Africa, UAE, UK, Germany, France and Greece.

The Government continues to ensure that key performance indicators hit national agricultural policy targets, including improved rangeland management, increased agricultural production, increased yield per hectare, national and household food security, food self-sufficiency, horizontal and vertical integration of agriculture value chains, and optimal utilisation of resources. Namibia is currently drafting an Agri-food Sector Strategy document that is being formulated with the technical assistance of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).


Minister Hon. Calle HG. Schlettwein

The mission of the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Land Reform is to realise the potential of these sectors towards the promotion of an efficient and sustainable socio-economic development for a prosperous Namibia.