Mahangu, also known as pearl millet, is a subsistence rain fed cereal crop which is the major staple food for over 50% of the Namibian population. The regions in which this crop is produced are:

  • Zambezi,
  • Kavango East,
  • Kavango West,
  • Ohangwena,
  • Omusati,
  • Oshana,
  • Oshikoto, and;
  • in parts of the Otjozondjupa region, in the Tsumkwe area.


This crop is highly adapted to low rainfall and the prevailing soil conditions in the North Central Regions and the Kavango. For many years, small-scale farmers have survived on the low yields obtained from mahangu. Mahangu farmers in Namibia are amongst the few peoples in Africa who have successfully developed an integrated food storage system where they can store their grain in storage baskets made of wood strips for up to five years.

On the recommendation of the NAB, mahangu was gazetted a controlled crop on 15 May 2008 by way of government gazette no 109. This mandate ensures that from 1 July every year, no permits are granted for the import and export of mahangu until the total locally produced harvest is sold, guaranteeing a free market within the boundaries of Namibia. During this time, mahangu is marketed and sold in line with a production cost related floor price.

Mahangu Development Strategic Plan 2018 – 2022

Mahangu in Namibia

Over the past few years, the Mahangu Development Plan 2010 – 2013 was implemented to support the development of the mahangu sector in Namibia. The aim of the Mahangu Development Plan 2010 – 2013 was to foster a rapid and efficient production and marketing system for the development of the crop. The 2010 – 2013 Mahangu Marketing Plan served:

  • To create an appropriate environment for improved production and marketing for sustained long-term production of mahangu crops, and;
  • To improve the marketing of mahangu for both communal and commercial farmers.

The Mahangu Marketing Plan’s objectives were to develop strategies for promoting surplus production, improve the marketing system and promote value addition and product development in the mahangu sector.

A subsequent 5 year - Mahangu Development Strategic Plan 2018 – 2022 based on the key success factors of the Mahangu Development Plan 2010 – 2013 - is soon to be implemented. The main objective of the Mahangu Development Strategic Plan 2018 – 2022 is to advance the commercialisation of the crop and supporting the mahangu value chain within the borders of the Republic of Namibia. With much of the Mahangu Development Plan 2010 – 2013 achieved, a focus area in the Mahangu Development Strategic Plan 2018 – 2022 is to provide further support to surplus producers and to encourage current subsistence producers to make available their grain for uptake into the commercial processing sector. 

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