Kavango small-scale farmers want supermarket support

10 Nov 2015 17:20pm
RUNDU, 10 NOV (NAMPA) – Small-scale farmers in the Kavango Region say they are struggling to get supermarkets in the area to purchase their products in support local agricultural produce.
The small-scale farmers at the Namibia Red Cross Society (NRCS) Irrigation Project at Sikondo village voiced their complaint during a visit by Nampa at the weekend.
The visit formed part of the NRCS media tour.
Sikondo is a village situated 10 kilometres west of Rundu where the small-scale farmers produce vegetables such as onions, lettuce and cabbages along the banks of the Kavango River.
Chikomo Mathews, one of the farmers, told this news agency he started growing vegetables in 2007 to support his family, but business is not going well since local supermarkets do not want to buy their produce.
“The only support we get from them is when they run out of orders from their suppliers, who are mostly in South Africa,” said Mathews.
He said they mainly sell their produce to community members and people from Rundu who buy it to resell it at open markets such as Sauyemwa Open Market and Rundu Open Market.
The NRCS as part of their food security projects started to support the small-scale farmers at Sikondo in 2014, when they provided the farmers with water pumps; tanks; pipes; rakes; shovels and wheelbarrows.
Mathews said this helped them a lot since they used to draw water with buckets to irrigate their fields in the past.
They however face a few other obstacles, such as a lack of transport to get their produce to existing customers.
Another small-scale farmer, Seraphy Theresia, said they also at times struggle with insects destroying their crops.
Approached for comment, the assistant manager of OK Foods, Neila Felisberto, however said they do support the farmers when they have fresh produce that is in a condition to be resold since they are required by the Namibia Agronomic Board (NAB) to support local farmers.
“If the produce is of good quality, we do buy from them, we don't have a problem there,” she said.
Manager at Rundu Fresh Produce Business Hub, Inekela Kambidji, told Nampa last year that business at the hub was slow. Kambidjie said this was partly because the traditional farming methods used by the small-scale farmers do not involve market-led production, meaning their produce is not produced according to what the market requires.
Approached for comment on Monday, he said that receive support, small-scale farmers should produce vegetables according to good agricultural practices.
“There are no strict requirements for small-scale farmers in terms of the produce to be sold at the Fresh Produce Hub. The only factors to consider is sufficient water for the crops, the land and good agricultural practices,” said Kambidji.
The fresh hub properties are managed by the Agro-Marketing and Trade Agency (AMTA), which is responsible for the promotion, marketing, processing and value-addition of Namibia’s agricultural produce, as well as the management and maintenance of infrastructure.
The Branch Manager of the NRCS office in the Kavango Region, Percias Matomola told this news agency that beside the Sikondo Food Security project, the Red Cross has also started with a poultry project in the area of Sikondo, as well as at the villages of Mayana and Sarukwe.
The new project will benefit at least 20 beneficiaries who will receive three hens and a cock each.
“In order to maintain continuity for the chicken project, the beneficiaries will be required to give back three hens and a cock to the Red Cross to sustain the project,” he concluded.