Orange River Irrigation Project exports decrease by 31 per cent

27 Feb 2019 12:30pm
AUSSENKEHR, 27 FEB (NAMPA) - The Orange River Irrigation Project at Aussenkehr has decreased its grape exports by 31 per cent during the 2018 harvesting season compared to the preceding year, Farm Manager, Simon Akwenye has revealed.
In an interview with Nampa recently, Akwenye said the project exported 86 per cent its grapes during the 2017 harvest season and only 55 per cent during the 2018 harvest season.
Akwenye said that a lack of finances made it difficult for them to access fertilisers and the other necessary chemicals to produce berry size grapes, resulting in them having to sell a larger portion of their produce to the local market.
“Most of the time these [grape] trees are only given water and that cannot help them grow fully to reach the required berry size. No one wants to buy grapes that have not met the right berry size and with or without the necessary chemicals, these grapes do grow but the quality is compromise,” he remarked.
He said during the 2018 harvest season 45 424 kilogram of grapes were sold locally compared to 13 273 kilogram sold locally in 2017.
“In 2017 we harvested 100 320 kilogram of grapes of which 87 047 kilogram we exported and in 2018 we harvested 101 715 kilogram of grapes and we manage to export only 56 291 and the rest were sold locally,” he said.
Another element the farm manager noted that also contribute to the decrease in export is that the types of grapes that are produced at the farm are no more in demand as their market are saturated and there is an urgent need for them to start growing other types or varieties of table grapes in order to increase their exports.
ORIP currently produces only the Thompson, Flame and Sugraone table grapes on 25 hectares.
“We currently produce more of the Thompson and Flame table grapes; which we exported to Europe and the Middle East but now these types of grapes are produced in many other countries and the market is small. We need to plant other varieties of grapes that are currently demanded by the market,” he said.