In a significant move towards strengthening international trade ties, Namibia has shown a keen interest in increasing the import of wheat and seed potatoes from Russia. This development follows a meeting between representatives from Namibia’s Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Land Reform and the Federal Service for Veterinary and Phytosanitary Surveillance of Russia, also known as Rosselkhoznadzor. The productive discussions took place during the Russia-Africa forum held in St. Petersburg last week.
Rosselkhoznadzor, a federal executive body operating under Russia’s Ministry of Agriculture, plays a crucial role in veterinary control and supervision. During the meeting, Rosselkhoznadzor expressed its desire to collaborate with Namibia on matters related to quality control, safety of grain and plant products, genetically modified organisms (GMOs), and pesticide usage. The focus also extended to identifying quarantine pests that are pertinent to Namibia’s agricultural produce.
In response, the Namibian delegates indicated their enthusiasm for understanding the Russian system of phytosanitary control and expressed a desire to send their specialists for training at the All-Russian Research Institute of Plant Quarantine. This exchange of knowledge and expertise demonstrates the willingness of both nations to work collaboratively in strengthening their agricultural sectors.
The scope of discussions went beyond grain shipments, as representatives from Namibia also conveyed their interest in broadening the range of imported agricultural products. Fruits, vegetables, seeds, and planting materials were among the items highlighted for potential import from Namibia to Russia.
The data from the Russian Grain Union indicates that the wheat shipments from Russia to Namibia for the agricultural year 2021/2022 amounted to 15,400 tonnes. This figure serves as a starting point for the anticipated increase in grain shipments between the two countries.
The Namibian delegation, led by Vice President Nangolo Mbumba, attended the Russia–Africa Economic and Humanitarian Summit in St. Petersburg. The delegation comprised Cabinet ministers, parliamentarians, academics, and representatives from various companies. One of the key takeaways from the summit was the confirmation of ongoing negotiations between Namibia and Russia regarding a reciprocal meat trade agreement.
This burgeoning partnership between Namibia and Russia is grounded in shared interests and mutual benefits. The evolving global landscape, especially in light of Russia’s expanding diplomatic and trade relationships with Africa, offers ample opportunities for both countries to diversify their agricultural trade.
According to experts Farzad Ramezani Bonesh and Chris Devonshire-Ellis, the Russia-Africa relationship is taking on increasing significance as Russia seeks to establish alternative trade routes and collaborations that extend beyond its traditional European ties. Agriculture, being a priority sector for Namibia, aligns well with Russia’s focus on trade, investment, and diplomatic engagement in the African continent.
Vice President Mbumba emphasized Namibia’s commitment to agricultural development and food security. The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), established in 2021, serves as a platform for strategic partnerships that extend beyond continental boundaries. The involvement of international partners, such as Russia, holds promise for capacity-building, technology transfer, and improved agricultural production and agro-processing.
Mbumba’s address during the summit highlighted Namibia’s interest in the geopolitical dynamics involving Russia, particularly the humanitarian impacts of conflicts such as the one in Ukraine. Namibia expressed support for efforts aimed at resolving conflicts and fostering global economic development.
Russian President Vladimir Putin’s assurances during the summit further underscore the commitment to strengthening agricultural ties. Putin emphasized Russia’s intent to provide various grain crops to African countries, including through humanitarian aid programs in collaboration with the UN Food Programme.
Addressing the issue of international trade, Putin discussed Russia’s intentions to contribute to the global food market by ensuring stable supplies of grain. He acknowledged the challenges posed by Western countries and reiterated Russia’s resolve to support African nations in their agricultural endeavors.
Putin’s commitment to sharing grain with African nations, albeit a smaller quantity compared to the UN World Food Programme’s efforts, reflects Russia’s desire to foster sustainable growth and development across the continent. Moreover, Putin’s call to shift financial and trade transactions to national currencies, including the Russian Ruble, underscores the strategic importance of diversifying economic interactions.
In conclusion, Namibia’s interest in increasing grain shipments from Russia signals a promising step towards establishing robust agricultural partnerships. The collaborative efforts between the two nations hold the potential to enhance agricultural production, food security, and economic development. As Russia expands its engagement with Africa, the mutual benefits of such collaborations are poised to contribute to a more interconnected and prosperous global landscape.