Asparagus agro-processing opens in Omusati

Vice-President Nangolo Mbumba on Thursday officially inaugurated a Spanish-initiated Asparagus Agro-Processing Factory, the first of its kind in Namibia, to process white asparagus for local and international market at Ruacana in the Omusati Region.

Prime Minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila, at similar time last year, officially launched the construction of the multi-millions state-of-the-art factory.

A 60 hectares (ha) plot growing white Asparagus, under Otjimbele Agricultural Trading, has been created at Etunda Irrigation Project near Ruacana to supply the factory, while plans are underway to expand and increase it to 300ha upon this year's successful harvest.

This is a great moment both for the development of the agricultural sector and for the expansion of value addition capacity of our economy, said Mbumba in his official opening address, adding that the factory is to meaningfully contributing to the livelihood of the residents of Omusati.

According to Mbumba, the factory serves as a catalyst for transformation to trigger a commodity-based industrialisation as the engine of growth and economic transformation.

He described agro-processing as one of the targeted sectors aimed at value addition to discourage reliance on primary production exports, and it demonstrates the nation's determination to develop the agricultural sector.

Mbumba noted that besides the factory's profound impact on the community of Ruacana and Omusati Region, it is also about developing the country's agro-processing ability and infrastructure.

He indicated that the Asparagus growing project and the processing factory emanated from the twinning agreement that the Omusati Regional Council had with one of its strategic partners from the Basque Region in norther Spain.

Speaking at the same occasion, General Manager of Otjimbele Agricuture and representative of Industrias Alimentarias de Navara S.A.U, Carlos Aretxaga said 400 workers for the factory and 200 workers for the harvesting will be employed by next year.

Aretxaga said majority of the workers will be women. He urged the Namibians and residents of Omusati to embrace the success of the project and to regard it as national initiative.

The project will produce, process and export white asparagus (Asparagus, while creating a total of up to 800 direct jobs in the factory and 1 000 employment opportunities during harvesting once it is fully-developed.

Source: Namibia Press Agency