AUSSENKEHR - The government-owned Orange River Irrigation Project (ORIP) could do much better and bring in more profits if more funds were availed to expand its production.
This is according to ORIP’s assistant manager Manrose Ngatajosi, who in an interview with New Era indicated that although the irrigation scheme - which grows table grapes and dates - is up and running, things could get better if more funds were channeled to the project and more land was under production.
Currently about 45 hectares and 57 hectares is under production for dates and grapes respectively.
He said the grape industry has a small margin of profit and therefore more land needs to be under production if the scheme is to make any meaningful profit, saying the scheme will not be able to break even with the little produce it makes.
“We are trying to farm sustainably, but the development funds are not there and in this industry for you to make money and survive, it is all about the economy of scale, you have to have volumes, this farm is 57 hectares and if you look at the electricity prices, fuel, you will not break even with the little produce, so we need to plant more, we need at least 200 hectares of table grapes and 200 hectares of dates, that is the only way we will survive,” he said.
Comparing the projected grape yield this season to last year, he said this year does not look good compared to last year, saying not only is the yield less but it is also late and this can affect the prices the grapes fetch.
“Last season the yield was better and it was earlier, but looking at the yield this year we do not have a good yield as we expect to on average pack about 1800 cartons per hectare, and you have to pack 3500 per hectare to break even, we are also late with harvest and this means that the late you come on the market, the lower the prices you get and the earlier you get to the market the higher the price you get for your grapes,” he said.
He was however optimistic that if the needed funds were made available, the farm could improve its yield and produce much more, saying more land under production means more profit for the scheme, as he pleaded with the ministry of agriculture to consider upscaling the scheme by providing the necessary funds.
“We need to increase the hectares under production, we need to develop, we need to plant more and that means the ministry of agriculture must give us funds for us to develop and grow, with table grapes, the profit margin is very small, if you make a turnover of N$ 100 000, 75 percent of that goes back as production costs, so your profit margin is 25 percent which is very little, so you have to have more hectares under production in order to increase this little profit,” he stated.
2018-11-20 09:46:52 23 days ago