WINDHOEK - The asparagus-processing factory that is currently under construction at Oshifo near Ruacana in the Omusati Region is expected to be completed this April.
Carlos Lertxundi Aretxaga, the General Manager for Asparagus Agro-Processing Project representing Otjimbele Agriculture PTY ltd confirmed this to New Era on Saturday.
Construction started in July last year and had to survive challenges before a smooth continuation thereafter.
Aretxaga said the factory to process the asparagus produced from the Etunda Irrigation Project by the same investors is expected to provide employment to more than 60 Namibians from villages around Etunda.
He said 60 workers will be needed for the first phase with an additional 400 to 450 people to be employed in the second phase of the processing plant.
The first processing work is expected from June/July this year.
Planting of the asparagus started in July 2017, at Etunda in Omusati Region, after which the trial harvest took place in December last year.
There are currently 22 workers employed in the planting and harvesting at Etunda garden, all of them Namibians from villages near the project.
“At full production in three years from now, I think we will be the biggest employer in the agricultural sector, with more than 700 workers all together. This is a labour intensive project, everything from harvesting to processing is done by hand, and that’s why we are able to employ more people.”
He said at least four people are needed per hectare to harvest the 60 hectares area.
The general manager is proud that the project is linked to Vision 2030 through employment creation, especially in the region where a lot of young people are without jobs.
“We receive a lot of support from government, as this project adds value to a Namibian product and provides much needed employment.”
In contrast, Aretxaga said government already approved more land for the next two phases of the project, to enable maximum production in three years.
With regard to the trial harvest in December last year, he said the surrounding villages were the beneficiaries of the product.
“Because we did not have the factory ready to process our first half a hectare harvest, and simply because it was a trial to determine the quality of the vegetable, we gave the harvest to local people for own consumption.”
He motivated that this somehow contributed to alleviating hunger in the community.
“Apart from the real product consumed by people, we also allowed the communal farmers to harvest the asparagus plant as fodder for their drought hit animals. They came with pick-ups and donkey carts to collect and feed their cows and goats,” he said.
The asparagus produced at Etunda will be exported to European Union (EU) countries such as Spain, Italy and France.
New Era Reporter
2019-01-29 09:19:39 18 days ago