NAUTE DAM – Naute irrigation scheme project manager Izak van Zyl says they do not have a direct domestic or international market to sell their dates to.
During a briefing with agriculture minister Alpheus Naruseb last week Thursday, Van Zyl explained that they thus use an intermediary to market and sell the dates produced at the scheme.
“We currently do not have a market for the dates ourselves, so we use a middleman or an agency, called Carsten Farms in South Africa and they do the marketing and selling on our behalf,” he said.
He noted that the dates are sold throughout the world in this way, but bemoaned that they do not have a local market for them.
“Here in Namibia, we do not have a market; we do not have any individual or company that can say ‘we want to buy a tonne of dates’. We also sell the produce in an open market in South Africa where anyone can buy, but here back home, we cannot even sell on the street as there is no market,” he said.
The project was established in 1991 by the Namibia Development Corporation (NDC) and is located at Naute Dam, 50 kilometres from Keetmanshoop.
Dates are grown on 120 hectares but only 20 hectares are producing around 200 tonnes at the moment.
Van Zyl said one of the biggest challenges the project is facing is the dust from the gravel road, and added that they have to spend millions of dollars to buy different products to protect the dates and grapes from infestation.
“The dust comes with diseases, dates and the grapes we plant here are very sensitive to dust and this year alone we lost 70 tonnes of dates, valued at N$350 000,” he added.