MAJOR retailers Shoprite/Checkers, Pick 'n Pay and Game are refusing to stock a range of locally made biscuits made out of mahangu (millet), The Namibian established yesterday. The range of products are packaged as Oatmeal Cookies, Cookies, Biscuits and Cookies with Nuts. The products are made in Rehoboth by a group of entrepreneurs under an initiative of the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry, and falls under its product development division.
Errolice Tjipura of TB Consultants cc, who is the project consultant said in an interview yesterday that Shoprite/Checkers, Pick 'n Pay and Game have indicated that permission needs to be obtained from their headquarters in South Africa before the mahangu products could be placed on local shelves.
"They told us that they need to get vender number approval from South Africa but the process is taking too long," Tjipura said.
The agriculture ministry is encouraging Namibians to be creative with locally grown crops. As a result, the ministry has provided machinery and technical assistance to the project. The ministry has contributed a baking machine and consultancy on how to go about with the project.
Tjipura explained that the project will provide an alternative market for mahangu farmers
"Namibians are without a doubt excited to see Namibian made products of such high quality, judging from the comments and how well the product was received at the Ongwediva Trade Fair and the Windhoek Show," she said.
Tjipuka said even with its popularity and consumers wanting the product to be available in all major retailers in the country,it is proving difficult to get South African based retailers such as Shoprite/Checkers, Pick 'n Pay and Game to stock the product "as their procurement decisions have to be made in South Africa, which means months and months of waiting for feedback from their headquarters in South Africa."
"But, retailers such as Woermann & Brock, Tre-Supermarket, Spar (Maerua Mall & Hochland Park), Fruit and Veg (Town and Food Lover's Market), were very supportive and eager to get mahangu biscuits onto their shelves. This is a very positive trend that should be applauded," she said.