22 February 2018

Namibia: Redline Haunts Small-Scale Farmers

Ongwediva — The veterinary cordon fence (VCF) north of Oshivelo, also known as the redline, haunts northern small-scale farmers who say they are unable to export their horticultural produce beyond Namibian borders because of the boundary.

A ban followed a fruit fly invasion years back, New Era has established.

Fysal Benner, the founder and group chairperson of Fysal Fresh Produce, said the ban is unfair to small-scale farmers in the north.

"How do we encourage farmers to produce if they cannot export? Our farmers are suffering and something must be done," said Benner.

Amongst the products that cannot be exported are butternuts and watermelons.

Benner was speaking at a tour around the Agro Marketing and Trade Agency's (AMTA) fresh produce hub with former president Hifikepunye Pohamba on Monday.

The tour also saw the welcoming of Fysal Fresh Produce to operate from the Ongwediva fresh produce business hub.

The operation from the hub will entail selling and storing fruits and vegetables at the hub for distribution at Fysal stores and other retail markets in the north.

AMTA's managing director Lucas Lungameni briefed Pohamba that the best strategy to lift the ban would be to set up traps and study where the fruit flies come from.

"It does not mean that there is no fruit fly, that side," remarked Lungameni.

Pohamba expressed content with the progress made by AMTA during the four years of its existence, and encouraged businesses to create links of exporting fruits from other African countries.

Pohamba remarked that the trade policy of the African Union (AU) was designed for Africans to trade amongst themselves and he was happy that Fysal was looking into creating direct links with Mozambique to export fruits such as bananas rather than going through South Africa as has been the norm.

Meanwhile, Fysal's joint operation with the hub will also see Namibian produce being sold in Angola.

Benner said Fysal would be importing fruits and vegetables from Angola and in turn also supply produce to the Angolan market.

"We are planning to take produce from that side, but when we go to collect our cartons they should be packed with produce from here," said Benner.

Benner appealed to the government to support their initiative by allowing them to supply government institutions such as schools, hospitals, the police and army directly.

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