Namibia: Over 400 000 Namibians Estimated to Be Food Insecure

According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations in its March 2021 crop prospects and food situation quarterly global report, 441 000 Namibians are estimated to be food insecure and would be in need of humanitarian assistance between October 2020 and March 2021. The FAO stated that Namibia is among the 45 countries in need of external assistance for food.

The report said in Namibia there are shortfalls in staple food production, which have been exacerbated by the economic slowdown, which in turn was worsened by the Covid-19 pandemic. “Although the availability of food is adequate and stable, the negative effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, primarily income and job losses, have constrained households’ access to food,” reads the report.

FAO’s production outlook for Botswana, eSwatini, Lesotho, and Namibia, all countries that import a large share of their cereal needs, is favourable owing to good rains and which should result in average to above-average harvests expected to be attained.

Further, in South Africa, following two months of declines, wholesale prices of maize grain increased in January 2021 and were more than 20% above their year-earlier levels.

The recent uptick and overall higher prices were underpinned by spillover effects from the international market, where prices have risen sharply reflecting increasingly tight global supplies and a depreciation of the national currency.

In the import-dependent countries, the report stated, Botswana, eSwatini and Namibia, which source the bulk of their grain supplies from South Africa, saw prices of maize meal mostly stable in the last quarter of 2020, but higher than the previous year amid increasing import costs. The recently released report also noted that cereal output and import needs both rose in low-income food-deficit countries.