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Michigan State University (1996)

Economics of the Namibian millet subsector

Keyler, Stefan Karl

Titre : Economics of the Namibian millet subsector

Auteur : Keyler, Stefan Karl

Etablissement de soutenance : Michigan State University

Grade : Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) 1996

Facing a national grain deficit and recognizing that more than half of Namibia’s population concentrates in the primary millet production zones Ovambo and Kavango (further called study zone), Namibian policymakers decided to prioritize the development of the millet sector. During the 1992/93 production year household, trader, and price surveys were conducted in the study zone. Based on the collected data this study uses descriptive and regression analyses to identify the main performance determinants of the millet sector. To predict the effects of grain policy/technology changes on household food security, millet’s competitiveness, and national grain import requirements, three models are developed simulating potential reductions of millet production and marketing costs and comparing various millet processing options. Research findings demonstrate that few farmers are millet self-sufficient and only ten percent of the millet production is commercially traded. Most people in the study zone prefer millet over maize. But millet’s scarcity and high price leaves imported maize to dominate the commercial food market and attracts millet imports from Angola. Research findings indicate that millet yields can be increased if fertilizer and improved agronomic practices are introduced. But contrary to expectations, Okashana 1, a millet variety introduced in 1988/89, does not significantly increase farmers’ yields. However, Okashana’s capability to mature within three months can protect farmers from crop failures in short rainy seasons. Due to higher annual rainfall and the availability of more fertile land Kavango has a greater potential for commercial millet production than Ovambo. Results from the simulation models reveal the following : (a) Small scale hammermill technology on the community level is the most cost effective millet processing solution ; (b) Even under improved millet production and marketing conditions a quarter of rural households remain food insecure ; (c) If current population growth rates persist, the study zone will further depend on grain imports. Because many small holders lack access to adequate production resources even an improved millet sector can not solve all problems of rural poverty and food insecurity. This finding leads to the recommendation that policymakers have to look beyond the farm level toward income and employment creation in rural non-farm activities.


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