Following its independence from South Africa in 1990, Namibia has been praised for its good governance, sound social policies and dynamic market economy, stimulated by rich natural resources. Known for its coastal desert "Namib", meaning vast place, Namibia is a leading country in nature conservation with a growing eco-tourism sector. Going by its average GDP per capita ($5,670/year), the rather arid Namibia is among middle income countries but with high social and economic inequities. A majority of the population is vulnerable to frequent environmental shocks like droughts.
Development challenges such as access to water and sanitation and other basic services, and malnutrition, are being dealt with, but remain significant. Unemployment is high and about 17% of children under five are underweight. Even though agriculture represents only 7.5% of the GDP, 40% of households depend on small-scale subsistence farming. Levels of food insecurity and malnutrition may fluctuate with the changing climate. Erratic and scarce rainfall make farming challenging for a large part of the Namibian territory.
Namibia's agricultural landscape has changed since independence, from livestock rearing for export to South Africa to self-sufficiency in indigenous crops. There are four main farming systems: small-scale cereal crop (pearl millet, sorghum, maize) and livestock (goat and cattle) in extreme North Namibia; cattle ranching in the center; sheep and goat farms (with grazing on communal lands) in the drier South; and commercial irrigated farms for export and local market (maize, dairy, vegetables and fruits) spread across the country.