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Farmers encouraged to export produce

In the absence of a cold storage facility, farmers at the Epalela settlement in the Omusati region were forced to sell their produce to informal markets.
However, with the launch of the Horticulture Marketing Centre, it will be easier for wholesalers to purchase produce from a central site and in future, the farmers could export to neighbouring countries.
According to Environment Minister, Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah, the centre has the potential to become a “node for rural development for the region.”
Nandi-Ndaitwah said the centre is an example of government’s efforts to fight poverty and ensure food security in the country.
The Horticulture Marketing Centre was handed over to the Olushandja Horticulture Producers Association last week.
“It needs to become a centre of trade and business for local enterprises, which will facilitate the movement of agricultural products and goods from households to the market. The produce is no longer scattered across your gardens or fields. You now have a central location.  Now it is easier to also market your products as they are now found at a one stop shop,” Nandi-Ndaitwah told the members of the association.
The Ministry of Environment and Tourism, through the Country Pilot Partnership for Integrated Sustainable Land Management (CPP – ISLM), together with the Ministries of Agriculture, Water and Forestry and Regional Local Government, Housing and Rural Development, handed over the centre to the association.
“ … agriculture remains one of the key sectors through which Namibia can create jobs and build our economy. The Epalela community is a shining example of this. It is through initiatives such as this one that we will be able to meet our environmental and rural development challenges head-on. With most of our population still deriving their livelihoods directly from the land, a new approach  is required to close the institutional, financial, governance, economic, knowledge and technology gaps which represent barriers to sustainable land management.
“We have seen the community here take the lead, and they have demonstrated that with concerted and coordinated action between the relevant partners, we can effectively address these problems,” the environment said.
Nandi-Ndaitwah urged the association to work hard in order for it to supply Namibia and its neighbours such as Angola, with fresh produce.
The facility cost N$1.3 million. It is estimated that the centre will assist in increasing the farmers’ profits by 25%, amounting to a projected income of N$3 million per year. The Olushandja Horticulture Producers Association has created significant employment opportunities with its farming activities, including 185 permanent jobs and 370 jobs.

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