The nearby Hardap Dam is the largest reservoir in Namibia and provides water for irrigation, making possible to cultivate animal fodder, as well as corn, fruits and vegetables. The town is surrounded by flourishing commercial farms which, due to the low annual rainfall in the area focus on game farming as well as sheep and ostrich farming which along with cattle farming remain popular in the region. Export grapes, cotton lucern and diary farming is also sustained by irrigation from the Hardap Dam.
A local ostrich abattoir used to cater for this increasingly important industry, but recently went bankrupt, and what survives of the karakul trade in the south is centered around Mariental. Sitting astride the main route into the Kalahari and Namib Deserts, Mariental also services the needs of farmers in these areas. Mariental also boasts some of the best safari and hunting experiences in Namibia at lodges like Lapa Lange and Anib Lodge. Available game include spring buck, bles buck, giraffe, ostrich, leopard, zebra, kudu, gemsbuck, hartebeest, eland, blue- and black wildebeest.
The German association “Fahrräder für Afrika e.V.” (Bicycles for Africa) has built a “Bicycle Empowerment Centre” in the town together with the Catholic Aids Action (CAA) and the Bicycling Empowerment Network (BEN) Namibia. Local people infected with the HI-virus were trained to repair and build bikes and also received the know-how to run the workshop on their own. Second-hand Bicycles are being sold at low prices to the inhabitants of the region, allowing easy travel and transportation, while the income from the workshops is also used to finance local aid projects. The project is supported by governmental agencies in Germany and Namibia