• July 16th, 2020

Eking out a living from selling dates

Lorato Khobetsi-Slinger

MARIENTAL – Over 100 residents from Mariental have been flocking to the Edel dates farm every day to harvest dates since the farm’s closure and the owners abandoned the project.

The farm, situated about 2km from Mariental, is owned by Octant Investment and used to be one of the country’s prime date exporters. 

The business had 20 permanent workers and 100 seasonal employees before all the workers were retrenched in July last year and the business closed its doors. 
Ivan Skrywer, a community member, has been coming to the farm every day since December to collect dates to sell on the streets of Mariental. 

“I come here to collect dates so that I can sell them to get an income – it’s not always that we fill buckets like today, sometimes we only fill up plastic bags to sell in town,” he said.
Other community members, Julien Pienaar and Christina Saal, heard about the farm from friends in the location.

“Some people come here to collect dates, some sell and others eat, they are even dry, some are not ripe yet. This is my first time here and I don’t sell my dates, I just eat them,” said Saal.
Pienaar, who was accompanied by her three young children, added that it was also her first time at the farm and that she collects dates for her family to eat. 

According to the caretaker at the farm, Linus Hitewa, the company closed down because of the decrease in the level of water in the Hardap dam and the owners gave permission to the locals to collect and consume the dates.  “For now the company is closed because there is not enough water. People from the location can eat the dates, we have given them permission to eat the dates,” he said. 
He however expressed his disappointment as some locals come to the farm under the pretence of collecting dates but steal equipment and vandalise the property. 

“In the week it is quiet but over the weekend the whole location comes here to collect dates and I am advising them to stop stealing things on the property.” 

“The only problem we have here is theft. But if they come here to eat, we don’t have a problem. They should stop stealing and damaging things belonging to the company,” Hitewa said.

However, according to various sources the farm, which was considered to be one of the biggest date farms in the region, closed as a result of the ongoing legal dispute between the owners of Octant Investments and Somnam Investment.
The company produced dates locally and for export mostly to the United Arab Emirates and South Africa. 

Staff Reporter
2020-02-06 07:55:19 | 5 months ago

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