Local fresh-produce hubs can supply agricultural produce: Mutorw

02 Dec 2013 16:00pm
WINDHOEK, 02 DEC (NAMPA) – Government will no longer tolerate the importation of agricultural produce while the domestic market can supply local consumers.
This was the view of Agriculture, Water and Forestry Minister John Mutorwa over consumer demands in the domestic market being serviced by imported products at the launch of the Ongwediva Fresh Produce Business Hub on Friday.
The absence of fresh produce facilities has resulted in large amounts of domestic horticultural produce being marketed through third countries. Mutorwa, however, said the current state of affairs cannot and will not be allowed to continue much longer.
“While appreciating the presence of Namibian agricultural products in the international markets, consumer demand in the domestic market is serviced by imported products.
This undesirable and unhelpful trend has to be reversed. This entails that quality local products should claim a fair share of the domestic market, according to the Market-Share Promotion Initiative driven, managed and promoted by the Namibian Agronomic Board (NAB),” he stressed.
The current marketing situation of fresh agricultural produce, which favours large-scale producers and processors at the expense of small and medium-scale farmers, is worrisome, Mutorwa stated.
He said it is important that the current legal framework be reviewed in order to steer the agricultural industry in the right direction.
Consultative processes will also be employed to determine the right structures and strategies for the implementation of national objectives with respect to the production, processing, marketing and regulation of fresh produce in Namibia.
Fresh-produce business hubs are very important as they present the necessary platforms for producers to market their fresh produce, and for retailers to source fresh produce for distribution in domestic and international markets. Furthermore, it will contribute to the development and transfer of skills to employees in the area of processing and value-addition; as well as creating new jobs and investment opportunities.
In order to support these strategic initiatives, the ministry embarked upon various training programmes such as the global Good Agricultural Practices (GAP).
A total of 20 farmers and 10 technical staff visited Kenya, which exports to the European Union (EU) market during this year to receive training on GAP.
So far, 200 local farmers have received GAP training in Namibia.
This international best-practice is aimed at ensuring that farmers produce safe food for consumers which meet international standards.
In addition, the ministry, in partnership with the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) is looking into the development of a small-scale horticultural input support programme, which will empower farmers and increase productivity for food security.
“Government has done its part, and shall continue to do its share in terms of creating a conducive policy, legal and infrastructural environment within which all stakeholders can build a strong value-chain network and system for the overall benefit of the Namibian people and economy,” Mutorwa added.
A fresh-produce hub has already opened its doors at Rundu two weeks ago, with another hub to be developed in the capital soon.