This is a best prospect industry sector for this country. Includes a market overview and trade data.


Agriculture is one of Namibia’s most important sectors. The majority of Namibia’s population is dependent directly or indirectly on the agricultural sector for their livelihoods. Agriculture’s contribution to GDP (excluding fishing) over the last five years has been just over four percent. Livestock farming contributes to approximately two-thirds of agricultural production, with crop farming and forestry making up the remaining third of production. Meat processing (which the Namibian government accounts for under manufacturing) contributes to another 0.2-0.4 percent of GDP. 

The export of live animals (mostly cattle and sheep) has historically contributed to about two-thirds of agricultural exports by value.  However, the export of meat and meat products (which are counted under manufacturing and not agriculture) were essentially equivalent to the total value of agricultural exports.  Most meat is exported to Europe and to South Africa, though China may become a new market. Livestock farming remains a foreign exchange earner for Namibia.  In 2016, Namibia became the first and only African country eligible for beef export to the United States. 
In recent years, the export of crops, vegetables, fruits, and forestry products has grown by value, of which table grapes has been the largest contributor.

The Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry (MAWF) has two initiatives, the Green Scheme and the National Horticulture Development Initiative (NHDI)  aimed at increasing local agricultural production. The Green Scheme encourages the development of irrigated agronomic production with a target of reaching approximately 27,000 hectares along the perennial rivers bordering Namibia within five years of its inception in 2004. Five years later, the government acknowledged that Green Scheme had not met many of its initial goals; less than 9,000 hectares were under irrigation and several of the Green Scheme projects struggled financially. Although the time frame has been extended to 15 years, the amount of irrigated land under the scheme remains virtually unchanged.  Nevertheless, government has decided to continue pursuing its Green Scheme initiative, which is perceived as a possible solution to poverty. 

Under the NHDI, the government aims to increase local production and facilitate the marketing of fruit, vegetables, livestock fodder, and other horticultural products.  One element of the NHDI is an import substitution program dubbed the Namibian Market Share Promotion (NMSP). Under the NMSP, importers must purchase a designated percentage of their turnover within Namibia.  As a result of the NHDI (and other initiatives), local horticulture production grew by 52 percent from 2004 to 2010 (from 37,823 tons to 57,809 tons) and by 2010 reached an import substitution level of over 22 percent, up from 7 percent before the initiative started. In further support of the NHDI, government set up the Fresh Produce Hub in the northern regions with the aim to increase food production while preserving the freshness of food. 

To protect local farmers, to encourage greater production of grain products, and to meet its food security goals the government (via the Agronomic Board) has established policies to control certain grains.   White maize, wheat, mahangu (pearl millet), and products derived from these three grains are controlled.  Controlled grain crops can only be imported or exported with permits issued by the Agronomic Board and the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry (MWAF).  For each controlled grain there are specific restrictions, but restrictions do not include price controls. Consult the Agronomic Board website (see below) to understand the restrictions in greater detail.
Namibia is a signatory of the Cartagena Protocol.  The Biosafety Act of 2006 governs the use/importation of bio-engineered (genetically modified) crops. 

Leading Sub-Sectors

  • Marketing and distribution of indigenous plants
  • Highly efficient irrigation systems including solar/wind powered systems
  • Farming equipment and machinery


Government Projects
The MAWF has announced two projects during the 2016 “Invest in Namibia” conference, including an irrigation project and a cattle feedlot project.  Details can be found at the following link:

Web Resources

Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry
Namibia Agronomic Board
Meat Board of Namibia
Namibia Agricultural Union


Prepared by the International Trade Administration. With its network of more than 100 offices across the United States and in more than 75 markets, the International Trade Administration of the U.S. Department of Commerce utilizes its global presence and international marketing expertise to help U.S. companies sell their products and services worldwide. Locate the trade specialist in the U.S. nearest you by visiting