Global Partnership Initiative for Plant Breeding Capacity Building (test)

Plant breeding programs in Namibia

Geographical situation of NamibiaLying along the south-western coast of Africa, Namibia is characterized as sub Saharan Africa’s driest country because about 90% of its area consists of desert. The persistent and recurring droughts as well as the poor soil fertility result in low crop productivity. Notwithstanding, about 70% of the population in Namibia is directly dependent on agricultural activities for their livelihoods and sustenance. Pear millet, sorghum, cowpea and groundnut are the most important staple crops.

Crop research activities began only in 1990 in Namibia. Today, only three institutions are involved in plant breeding and/or plant biotechnology issues. All of them are public. Only the DART has an active programme and has released some successful crop varieties. The two Departments within the University of Namibia have recently embarked on agricultural research work and most of their work is rather confined to thesis and practical academic work mostly at the laboratory level.

Namibia’s plant breeding programme has targeted its resource efforts by addressing mostly biotic and biotic stresses. Pearl millet, as the most important of Namibia’s staple crops, generally enjoys high priority in the breeding programme.

All these institutions have one limiting factor in common -- the inadequate numbers of breeders for each crop while the two Departments listed also lack financial resources to carry out field and laboratory experiments. Namibia should urgently invest in human capacity to enhance the level of its breeders.

Research and education institutes with activities in plant breeding

No Website available

Directorate of Agricultural Research and Training (DART)
No Website available

DART is one of the directorates within the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry, which is responsible for agricultural research and training activities. It has been the most active entity that conducts plant breeding in Namibia since 1991. This subdivision has had a very wide mandate of crops, to mainly work on developing and introducing improved varieties of all important crops in the country. Due to manpower and other resources constraints, the breeding programme places heavy emphasis on pearl millet, the most important staple crop. However, improved varieties of crops developed by other institutions are being tested. Thus the subdivision targets itself more towards responding to farmers' needs through participatory approaches and the use of farmers' indigenous technical knowledge (ITK).

University of Namibia

Departemtn of Crop Science, Faculty of Agriculture and Natural Resources (University of Namibia)
Website available in English

The department conducts rice line evaluation for the purpose of generating data on the adaptation of those varieties to Namibian growing conditions,  with specific reference to Open water holding pans in Oshana, Oshikoto and Omusati regions as well as flood areas in Caprivi Region, respectively. The Department of Crop Science has been actively involved in line evaluation of fixed lines introduced from other breeding programmes since its inception in 2002. The most dominant crops to which the Department devotes its breeding research efforts are rice and pearl millet, through line evaluation.

University of Namibia

Departmetn of Biology, Faculty of Science (University of Namibia)
Website available in English

Apart from teaching duties, the lecturers of the Faculty of Sciences conduct scientific research, which is mainly at the laboratory level. Some of their research activities are in the area of biotechnology with a special emphasis on genetic characterization and marker assisted selection of pearl millet, sorghum and other leguminous crops. No plant breeding programme, in the strict sense of the term is carried out.


Information by Sheehamandje Ipinge (2007) - Information based on the Namibia's full report from the PBBC survey. Last revised 15-03-2010, GIPB