Fish must be available and affordable: Esau

29 Oct 2014 13:10pm
WINDHOEK, 29 OCT (NAMPA) - Namibians should not have to walk long distances to reach outlets and buy fish products, and these should instead be made available and affordable to all.
The Minister of Fisheries and Marine Resources, Bernard Esau made this plea to fishing companies during the launch of Paragon Seafood Products in Windhoek on Tuesday.
Paragon Seafood Products is a subsidiary of Paragon Investment Holdings, and was established in 2011. Horse mackerel fishing rights and a quota were allocated to the company along with four other shareholders under a Joint Venture (JV). Shareholders include Ami Tjitendero, Fanuel Tjipua, Stanley Katzao and Utete Karimbue-Mupaine.
“Right now, many Namibians have to walk long distances to reach centres for affordable fish products. This must end. If I exit my house, the next door must be a fish shop.
We must paint Namibia with fish – there is no compromise on that. We have the resources and we are regarded as one of the big producers of fish in the world. Our economy is benefiting from this fish, why not ourselves?” Esau said.
He commended Paragon for entering the industry with a vision to bring value-addition to the fishing sector, saying the company and its stakeholders are listening to Government’s cry for the creation of jobs and encouraging local consumption of fish.
This was not the case in the past, where tonnes of horse mackerel were exported to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and other African countries, the minister said.
Speaking at the same occasion, the Director of Paragon Investment Holdings, Lazarus Jacobs said the company has taken the step to encourage fish consumption amongst Namibians, especially the consumption of horse mackerel.
“Paragon Seafood Products is by Namibians for Namibians. We want to feed the nation with fresh and affordable fish products,” he said.
Paragon did not pay any dividends to Government over the past two years, but rather invested the earnings in the setting up of a food production company. The company will catch, process, pack and distribute horse mackerel in Namibia, according to Jacobs. The production of frozen fruit and vegetables is another venture the company wants to go into in due course.
The company’s processing plant is located in Walvis Bay, while depots for the distribution of the fish products will be located in Ondangwa and the capital. Freezers will be distributed country-wide, and cooler trucks will deliver the fish products to various markets. Jacobs said unemployed youth are encouraged to go into business ventures with Paragon to acquire freezers and sell the fish products at affordable prices.
The first phase of the venture is set to create 55 jobs. The company will distribute about 100 metric tonnes of horse mackerel by the end of this month. Jacobs noted that the Paragon venture forms part of a franchise model.