No Shortage of Produce At Ongwediva Fresh Hub

WINDHOEK- The Ongwediva Fresh Produce Business Hub confirmed that there was no shortage of produce during December as local farmers structured their production schedules to satisfy the demand for the festive season.

The schedules are compatible with endless festivities such as weddings, Christmas and New Year celebrations.

Earlier critics had said government wasted millions of dollars developing the fresh produce hubs in both Ongwediva and Rundu which they said had turned into white elephants.

The Agro-Marketing and Trade Agency (AMTA), which runs the hubs, assured the nation last year that the fresh hubs in Rundu and Ongwediva would be ready for the increased business during the festive season, which is traditionally the wedding season when many parties occur throughout the country.

In an interview with New Era yesterday, Jacob Hamutenya who is AMTA Regional Manager for the Ongwediva Fresh Produce Business Hub said they are pleased that no shortage was experienced during the festive season as a lot of produce was well stocked from local farmers.

“We did not run out of stock. We had enough produce for the festive season especially potatoes, cabbage, butternut and grapes. Usually, Namibian producers produce grapes only for the EU (European Union) market. However we are trying to introduce them for the local market. Currently we have the top grade grapes in the hubs that we secured from Aussenkehr in the south,” Hamutenya said.

He also revealed that 99.9 percent of the products sold over the festive season were locally sourced and were either from government green scheme projects or commercial and small scale farmers.

A 10 kilogram (kg) bag of potatoes cost N$53.50 compared to big retail shops where the same bag cost N$140. Meanwhile, a bag of 25 kg of cabbage cost N$80 and the head cost N$10. Butternuts weighing 10 kg cost N$45, while 7 kg cost N$35.

Hamutenya said fruits that were available such as mangoes, grapes and watermelons were locally produced, while apples were imported from South Africa.

According to him, the Ogwediva hub still had some produce to sustain the market espeically for potato customers.

“We are trying to ensure that Namibians have access to Namibian products. Individuals, businesses, espcially big retialers, must be encouraged to source more produce through the hubs so that we can create confidence and empower local farmers to grow good quality produce and also in good quantity consistently. Currently we have a problem because local farmers are struggling to have their produce accessing and moving through the market, hence they are reluctant to produce more. The capacity to supply and meet the local demand with good quality products consistently is there. We just need the support from mini-markets, individuals and big retailers,” he explained.

Source : New Era