18 Nov 2013 19:20pm
RUNDU, 18 NOV (NAMPA) - The multi-million-dollar Rundu Fresh Produce Business Hub was officially opened for business on Monday.
The Rundu Fresh Produce Business Hub (RFPBH) was officially opened by Agriculture, Water and Forestry Deputy Minister Lempy Lucas, who also announced at the occasion that the Ongwediva Fresh Produce Hub will be opened later this month on 29 November.
Both the Rundu and Ongwediva fresh produce business hubs started operating in September this year, after the recruitment of staff was finalised, but were not yet officially opened for trading.
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 Inekela Kambidji was appointed as the Manager for the Rundu Fresh Produce Business Hub.
Kambidji has already started working.
With the opening of trading activities at the fresh produce hub, horticulture producers can now start bringing their produce to the hubs.
AMTA has appointed six agents consisting of wholesalers and commission agents, who will be responsible for the selling and buying of the fresh produce.
Producers and AMTA staff have also been trained on Good Agricultural Practices (GAP).
Kavango West and East Regional Governor, Dr. Samuel Mbambo said during the opening of the hub that the agriculture sector is one of the foundations of the Namibian economy, as it supports about 70 per cent of Namibians in terms of food, income, and employment.
The Governor said the Kavango East and West markets, via the wholesalers, will be able to provide food for the Namibian market adequately.
Dr. Mbambo explained that production in Namibia is fragmented in the sense that production areas are far away from each other and also located far from the main market.
Lucas said the facility presents a milestone in the role of fresh produce marketing, with the aim to stimulate agricultural production, marketing and value addition.
The Deputy Agriculture Minister said the hubs are very important as they will present marketing avenues for producers to market their fresh produce and for formal and informal sectors to source fresh produce from there.
They will also contribute, amongst others, to the production of quality produce, transparent trading systems and the transfer of skills to local people in the processing and value addition facilities.
Lucas stated that for far too long, local farmers have been denied the opportunity to participate in the mainstream fresh produce market as local retailers have been finding it difficult to source fresh produce from local farmers who are scattered around the villages.
Both Rundu and Ongwediva fresh produce business hub centres were officially inaugurated by President Hifikepunye Pohamba in March this year, putting to rest speculation that the buildings will become 'white elephants'.
The Rundu Fresh Produce Business Hub, which is strategically located 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, saying the hub will not be viable without such production.
About 60 selected horticultural farmers have been trained by the Agriculture Ministry on horticultural production, specifically on GAP, and have been certified as horticultural producers.
Such farmers are 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.