Pineapples and tomatoes lead supply to Fresh Produce Hubs
AMTA is embarking on a training programme for farmers and stakeholders in determining what produce and other requirements the market demands from producers.
The three-week Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) training for small farmers will be an ongoing practice. Under GAP training, producers, agents, ministry officials, AGRIBUSDEV staff and AMTA staff are trained in a systematic process that defines the roles and importance of each link in the fresh produce chain.
AMTA Managing Director, Lungameni Lucas said in an interview with the Economist that “GAP training is an ongoing step by-step activity which requires the farmers’ participation in determining requirements for production. Mr. Lucas also said “at the moment, infrastructure is not available in some parts of the country but systems will be present all over the country”.
AMTA has teamed up with Kenyan consultants to put up systems such as the Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points (HACCP) to ensure compliance with international food safety standards. Further plans are afoot to get the Namibia Standards Institution (NSI) on board for industry specifications such as packaging and food safety requirements during processing.
AMTA maintains infrastructure such as Fresh Produce Hubs in the Ongwediva and Rundu with a another hub to be constructed in Windhoek. The Fresh Produce Hubs intend to source produce from government-lead Green Schemes and from individual farmers across the country.
Lucas said that AMTA acts solely as “the facilitator between farmers and investors who wish to invest in the production, value addition, processing and transport of fresh produce,”
Farmers can either enter into wholesale agreements with agents or opt to auction their produce through commissioned agents. Both methods present their own advantages and disadvantages, he said.
“Foreign investment links international companies in joint ventures with Namibian companies and producers.” He acknowledged, however that there is only minor interest from individuals.
In the meantime, Lucas said AMTA will take over some functions of the Namibian Agronomic Board which was tasked to facilitate the marketing and processing of controlled products in Namibia.
He said the Agronomic Board will still serve as a statutory body in the separate function of facilitating stakeholders ,and in a coordination and advisory capacity to the line ministry. “The NAB will make recommendations to the minister for implementation and depending on that, will be handled by the appropriated body, whether it be AGRIBUSDEV, AMTA or NAB.”