Stampriet’s Roots agricultural project expects to grow 35 percent of Namibia’s fresh fruit and vegetables by 2025, ending Namibia’s heavy reliance on South Africa for fresh fruit.
According to the Namibia Statistics Agency, the import value of fruit is N$31 million per month on average, according to The Namibian earlier this year.
The project involves an agricultural village that creates opportunities for farmers to purchase land and be part of a small-scale co-operative.
“We chose the name Roots to symbolise the first of 14 agricultural towns we want to establish in Namibia, and to strengthen our motto of ‘we need to produce what we eat, and must eat what we produce’,” Salomon Kalondo, a Roots partner, says.
He says the venture is fully privatised.
The project’s other partner is Johan Rieckert.
Roots started seven years ago when Jahenmar Trading Enterprises, a property development company, decided to diversify into agriculture to help create a food secure country and promote skills transfer in agriculture.
“With Namibia’s monthly fruit import bill averaging N$31 million, we believe we can start producing fruit locally, create employment opportunities, and stimulate our economy in the process. So, this project was started to make a difference in Namibia,” Kalondo says.
Roots has a workforce of 250 employees, which is expected to grow to 350 by the end of the year.
The poroject’s produce has already made it onto the local market, which includes a variety of fruits, vegetables, eggs and free-range chickens.
Roots recently presented its first harvest of 30 tonnes of apples, becoming Namibia’s first commercial apple orchard in Namibia.
The apples obtained access to the local market and Roots is currently working on a trademark for their products.
The plan is to also enter foreign markets.
During a presentation at Agribank earlier this year, Willien Meiring of Roots said Namibia’s biggest foreign currency earner, tourism, is the most adversely affected by Covid-19, and for this reason Roots believes agriculture could replace tourism as a foreign currency earner.
Kalondo says while the project plans to enter export markets, no such markets exist yet, because the project’s current priority is to replace importers.
“There is an official plan that within the next five years Roots will be in full production, with 800 employees, and the second and third agri-towns should be 50% to 75% completed according to plan,” he says.
Agribank chief executive officer Sakaria Nghikembua earlier said Namibians cannot keep depending on South Africa for its supply of fruits and vegetables indefinitely.
He says investing in local production is not only to ensure the country has local produce, but also about creating jobs and growing the economy.