6 December 2012

Namibia: Business to Be Briefed On Fresh Produce Hub

Rundu — The Minister of Agriculture, Water and Forestry John Mutorwa is expected to address the business community in Rundu tomorrow pertaining to the operations of the soon-to-be-completed modern Rundu Fresh Produce Business Hub.

"We are requesting your good office to send officials to give information on the methods of operation of the hub and to allow our members and other business people to give their comments on the matter," said the Namibia Chamber of Commerce and Industry (NCCI) in a statement to the ministry.

"Assisted by some assigned officials, I shall personally address the meeting," Mutorwa replied.

Essential services such as the marketing of fruit and vegetables, a meat processing facility, and fish and poultry marketing will be provided by the eagerly awaited multi-million dollar Fresh Produce Business Hub.

Mutorwa told New Era that President Hifikepunye Pohamba would be invited to commission the N$110 million hub early next year.

The Kavango Region is known as the food basket of the country, with about seven green schemes situated in the fertile region.

Pohamba remains one of the key drivers when it comes to boosting local food production through the government-owned green schemes. With virtually no storage and limited marketing strategies for farmers to process and sell their produce, their hard work in the fields often goes unrewarded as their produce often gets spoiled when it goes unsold.

Speaking to New Era on Monday, some of the small-scale farmers of the Vungu-Vungu irrigation project indicated that selling their harvest remains the biggest challenge because there is a shortage of marketing avenues.

China Jiangxi International's site agent at the Rundu Fresh Produce Business Hub Cai Zhao Feng told New Era yesterday that the hub was completed within 23 months, adding that they are just waiting for the completion certificate to hand the facility over to the ministry.

"The engineers will come and inspect everything on Friday. As you can see everything is in order, therefore I see no reason why we will not get the completion certificate," said Feng.

With Chinese contractors often entangled in salary disputes with their workers, Feng said the entire construction process proceeded without any disputes regarding salaries. "We employed about 100 local people for this project and we paid all of them according to the rates of the labour law," he said.

Feng said the 6 400-square metres marketing hall consists of a laboratory room, restrooms, offices, freezer rooms, a coffee bar and a washing area. The freezer rooms in which the perishable produce will be stored is about 300 square metres in size.

The construction of the hubs at Ongwediva and Rundu were necessitated following the introduction of horticulture activities at the green scheme projects.

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