With more justly distributed agricultural land, more targeted irrigation and more added value in fish and meat production, Namibia could make better use of its agricultural potential.




Offical Language

English, Afrikaans, German, Otjiherero, Khoekhoegowab, Oshiwambo, RuKwangali, Setswana, siLozi


824,290 km²


approx. 2.6 Million

Population growth

2.2 %

Rural Population

45 % of the overall population

Gross Domestic Product

14.15 Billion US Dollars

Annual Income per Capita

Approx.  5,923 Dollars

Severity of hunger according to the World Hunger Index

serious (WHI: 24.9)

Human Development Index

Index: 0,645 / Rank: 130 of 189

One of the youngest nations in the world

With just 2.5 million inhabitants, Namibia is the world's least populated country after Mongolia. Two thirds of Namibia are formed by the deserts Kalahari and Namib. The name of the young republic is derived from the Namib Desert. First a German colony, then under South African administration, the country only gained independence on 21 March 1990 after more than 100 years of foreign rule. Since independence, the former liberation movement SWAPO has ruled with a large majority and the country is politically stable. Economically, Namibia was already better off than other African countries in the mid-1990s: practically debt-free and with a per capita income four times higher than the average in sub-Saharan Africa. Although it is now a middle-income country, poverty and malnutrition as a result of extremely unevenly distributed land, income and wealth are still a problem. Around 23 percent of Namibians live below the poverty line. The unemployment rate is around 28 percent.

Agriculture despite desert climate

Due to the dry climate, rain-fed agriculture is only possible in the north, where rainfall is higher, especially in the "corn triangle" between the cities of Tsumeb, Grootfontein and Otavi. Irrigated farming is only possible on a few border rivers and dams. Where sufficient water is available, small farmers grow millet, wheat, vegetables and fruit for their own consumption. However, Namibia can only partially cover the national demand for basic foodstuffs such as maize or vegetables in the event of drought-related crop failures - in 2016, about half of the national demand. It has to import hundreds of thousands of tons of food at high cost every year. Many low-income Namibians have no access to land. Nearly 30 percent of the population is affected by food insecurity.

The only notable exception for market-oriented irrigated agriculture to date is the cultivation of table grapes along the Oranjes, the river that borders South Africa. The grapes are of high quality and are ripe when no premium grape harvest takes place elsewhere. Therefore, the export product can be easily marketed internationally.
In order to increase yields and reduce the need for imports of important foodstuffs, the state is trying to expand its irrigation potential. One important project is the construction of the Neckar Valley dam in the south of the country. Around 5,000 hectares of irrigated farmland are to be created by damming the Fish River in the coming years. The government also wants to improve the country's food sovereignty and security with contract farming - so-called "green schemes" - in which small farmers are settled on large farms.



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