Building a Resilient Food Supply Chain Network for Namibia

In the face of global disruption, countries are tightening their supply chain resilience belt to ensure that food supply is not disrupted.

Recent reports suggest that Namibia is facing a grain shortage of around 120 000 tonnes to meet local demand. In addition, it is estimated that around 26% of the population faces high levels of acute food insecurity.

This is further worsened by the country’s heavy dependence on food imports from South Africa.

These statistics necessitate urgent approaches to build resilient supply chains in the face of disruption, regional geo-political tension and an incipient economic recession.

One of these solutions is to redesign the supply chain to mitigate the disruption of the food supply chain.

Heavy dependence on other countries for food presents a supply chain risk, given the resurgence of disruptive events. The complex supply chain network, including disintegrated border control, poses a challenge in ensuring product delivery.

Building resilience frameworks that enhance food security is key.

Based on the United Nations Comtrade database, Namibia’s supply chain resilience index stands at 43%.

The report also indicates that the supply chain risk index is 60%, which is higher than the resilience index. Moreover, the country supply chain visibility equates to a mere 23%.

My analysis of the data reveals a lack of investment in digital technologies, which is critical for creating supply chain transparency and visibility. Indeed, countries with clear digital transformation frameworks tend to manage their food supply chain more efficiently.

Another view could be attributed to the absence of supply chain risk management approaches to oversee the country’s supply chain risk.

The implications of supply chain vulnerability are apparent in rising food prices and the shortages of some food products announced by local food manufacturers.

To ensure that vulnerability in Namibia’s food supply chain is minimised, the government should continue to invest in food security projects from which retailers will subsequently source locally instead of regionally.

In case of food products that cannot be sourced locally, a well-coordinated supply chain network should be put in place to ensure the continuity of supply.

The impact of climate change can also be felt within the food supply chain. Climate change will continue to hamper food production locally due to extreme weather conditions.

The ongoing discussion on climate finance modalities should consider sustainable food production models.

Diversity sourcing approaches could be explored to lessen vulnerability by securing trade agreements with other countries with stable supply chain conditions.

The government should implement food subsidies on staple foods (mahangu) to relieve food insecurity. It is the social welfare responsibility of the government to ensure food security.

It is clear that new directions are required to plan how to strengthen Namibia’s food supply chain through sustainability-oriented food production, new sourcing locations and a transition towards the adoption of new digital technologies to improve the resilience of the food supply chain.

  • Jonas Shafondino Kamakela is a PhD Researcher (Supply Chain Risk and Digital Transformation).

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