24 Jul 2013 08:20
UVHUNGU-VHUNGU, 24 JUL (NAMPA) Dozens of small-scale horticulture farmers at the Salem Irrigation Project situated on the outskirts of Rundu have been left stranded with their fresh produce, as there is no market for it.
The horticultural producers - mostly women - grow their fruit and vegetables on a 34-hectare piece of land, with each producer occupying one hectare.
They are harvesting cabbages and carrots this winter.
Speaking to Nampa at the irrigation project on Wednesday, the producers said a catering company called Xantium which provides catering for school hostels in the region, previously bought their products.
The company has however now opted to purchase fresh produce from producers at Oshakati.
The Salem producers say they were not provided with reasons for the arrangement ending, and efforts by this news agency to obtain comment from Xantium proved futile.
The vegetable farmers told this news agency that local supermarkets from the region also do not support them by buying their produce, and instead import vegetables from neighbouring South Africa.
One of the producers, Agatha Muronga, said only a small number of supermarkets, as well as the local Woermann Brock supermarket, support them. She however added that the said supermarket alone cannot absorb all the produce grown at the project.
They thus called on other local supermarkets and retailers to support local produce in order to boost the local economy, which will in turn improve peoples livelihoods.
Another small-scale farmer, Agnes Kudumo, indicated that the lack of a market for their produce in the region discourages them from growing more vegetables.
A lot of the produce gets spoiled and rotten because there is no one to buy it, said the disgruntled Kudumo.
The small-scale farmers further claimed that they feel neglected by Government because they do not benefit from the various Government-empowerment schemes and subsidies currently in place.
They however expressed optimism that the Rundu Fresh Produce Business Hub, set to become operational in September this year, will give them the opportunity to produce more fruit and vegetables.
The Minister of Agriculture, Water and Forestry, John Mutorwa, during a visit to the Kavango Region early this month, said his ministry and the Namibian Agronomic Board are busy working on a subsidy scheme for small-scale horticultural farmers in the country.