09 Sep 2013 06:30
RUNDU, 09 SEP (NAMPA) - The multi-million-dollar Fresh Produce Business Hubs at Rundu and Ongwediva have started operating, but will only be ready for trading as from November this year.
Both Fresh Produce Business Hubs began operating this month following the recruitment of staff.
Lucas Lungameni was recently appointed as the General Manager for the Agro-Marketing and Trade Agency (AMTA), which will be responsible for managing these two centres, while Kambidji Heinekela was recently appointed as the manager for the Rundu Fresh Produce Business Hub, and has already resumed work.
Lungameni told Nampa on Monday that trading, which will see horticulture producers bring in their products to the hubs, will begin in November as the producers and AMTA staff will first have to be trained on Good Agricultural Practices (GAP).
The GAP training for both producers and staff, which will run concurrently, is expected to start next week.
Both centres were officially inaugurated by President Hifikepunye Pohamba in March this year, and people have started speculating that the buildings have become white elephants since their inauguration.
The Rundu Fresh Produce Business Hub, which is strategically situated along the Trans-Caprivi Highway, will provide the necessary space for bulk cold storage, processing, marketing and value-addition to fresh produce in the region and elsewhere in the country.
Lungameni, in an earlier interview with Nampa, called on horticultural producers to start mass production as without such production, the hub will not be viable.
Lungameni said about 60 selected horticultural farmers will be trained by the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry (MAWF) on horticultural production, specifically on GAP, whereafter they will be certified as horticultural producers.
Such farmers are then expected to train others in their respective villages.
The centre will provide business opportunities for processing, marketing and value-addition to fresh produce through industrial activities such as sorting, cleaning, grading, packaging, branding, drying, bottling and canning of fresh produce and marketing services.
The Fresh Produce Business Hubs consist of bulk cold storage and marketing facilities, serviced land for agro-processing activities, research and product development facilities, retail centres, open market facilities for vendors as well as a fuel station and truck port, amongst other things.
The fresh hub properties will be managed by AMTA, which will be responsible for the promotion, marketing, processing and value-addition of Namibias agricultural produce, as well as the management and maintenance of infrastructure.
The Rundu Fresh Produce Business Hub was constructed by China Jiangshi International Cooperation, a Chinese-owned company, at a cost of N.dollars 110 million.