KEETMANSHOOP – The notion of Namibians consuming what they did not produce and producing what they do not consume must be changed, said Tjekero Tweya, Minister of Industrialisation, Trade and SME Development.
He made these remarks when assessing the situation on the ground at the Namibia Industrial Development Agency (NIDA) projects at the Naute Dam outside Keetmanshoop last week.
“There is currently a huge call for the substitution or a decrease in importing products,” he explained.
The minister then raised concern about retailer agents who manipulate the local demand for Namibian products by ensuring that poor quality products, like grapes coming at cheaper prices from neighbouring South Africa are placed on shelves at the expense of quality Namibian products.
“The struggling men on the streets will obviously go for the cheaper product, but this is something we will look into,” Tweya said.
He then suggested that there should be a synergy between the Agro Trading and Marketing Agency (Amta) and the Namibia Standards Institution (NSI).
“They (Amta) should buy up local products and thereafter market it in order to ensure that local producers are adequately compensated whilst the NSI should establish the hygiene and validity of these products,” the minister explained.
He continued that the misconception of Namibians not able to afford products classified, as A-category by the NSI should be done away with.
“These products should be classified in such a manner that it can become affordable for the ordinary person also,” he emphasised.
Tweya furthermore raised concern that the relationship between NIDA and the government is not yet on desired levels in terms of communication, but he is however hopeful that this issues can be ironed out. “It further became clear to me that the level of communication between the NIDA Board, management and employees still needs improvement and I therefore implore on the parties to sit around one table in order to address difficulties so that serious issues can be resolved speedily,” he said. Tweya is optimistic that this project has a lot of potential to grow, at the end becoming central in terms of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) and employment creation.
“You should however keep on striving to add more value to waste-and-by products,” he urged the NIDA management. Tweya said this visit served as an eye opener for him whilst also congratulated the NIDA management for taking ownership in his challenge of taking this developmental project to greater heights.
The Naute irrigation project is in joint venture with two more subsidiaries namely Al Dhara Agricultural Company and Naute Kristall. Grapes, dates, prickly pears, nuts and pomegranates are produced at the Naute irrigation scheme whilst mainly grapes and dates are produced at the Al Dhara Agricultural Company. Naute Kristall are more involved in distilling liquors from waste products from the projects.
The main project started in 1991 and currently employs 64 permanent and 359 seasonal workers who are accommodated in brick-structured houses equipped with all basic human facilities.