A delegation from the Roots Agricultural village at Stampriet recently paid a courtesy call to Agribank to present and showcase their first harvest from the apple project co-financed by the bank. The Roots’ apple project is the first-ever commercial apple orchard in Namibia and produces apples in different sizes.
At the occasion, team leader Willien Meiring explained that the Roots project believes in a new concept of creating agricultural towns that first create a mini-local economy and then grow exponentially to an extent that they export to international markets.
Meiring noted that their farming development is divided into two sections, the first consists of subsistence farming units with own title deeds aimed at empowering locals to participate in farming. The second part comprises a commercial section that consists of over 50 agricultural plots, which was co-financed by Agribank as part of the commercial venture on which the apple project was started.
“Our vision is to ensure food security in Namibia. As a country, we cannot afford to be depending on other countries to supply us with food. We also want to ensure skills development in farming. We recently opened a school and we are set to establish an agricultural college that will train and equip farmers to become sustainable entrepreneurs in order to curb the high unemployment rate in the country,” Meiring explained.
According to her, the apple project recently obtained a local market and is currently working on a trademark for their products.
In the near future, she said, Roots plans to intensify their apple production for foreign markets to earn foreign currency needed for the country as well as to create sustainable jobs for Namibians.
“As you may all be aware, Namibia’s biggest foreign currency earner, tourism, is the most adversely affected sector by Covid-19. So, at Roots we believe that agriculture can replace tourism as a foreign currency earner. Therefore, for us being here today is to just say to you that, we had a dream, here are the results, we are very happy for what we have achieved and really appreciate Agribank for supporting us in our dreams,” said Meiring. Meanwhile, Agribank’s chief executive officer Sakaria Nghikembua reiterated the bank’s mandate as a role player in enabling the transformation of the agricultural sector to facilitate food security, job creation and economic growth. Nghikembua also commended the Roots project for paying a courtesy visit to the bank to share their farming progress.
“Thank you for coming back to show us the product. We are happy to see that you are making progress. For us as a bank, we have a clear mandate of enabling the transformation of agriculture in this country through innovative and affordable financing solutions. We can’t be relying on South Africa for almost everything. So, we need to ask ourselves as a nation why can’t we produce our own vegetables, onions, tomatoes and other basic foodstuffs? It is not only about having our own products but also all our efforts are aimed at supporting initiatives that create jobs and grow the economy,” Nghikembua enthused.