Desert Fruit eyes expansion

In full production, the four varieties of date palms will produce an expected total of over 1 000 tonnes of export quality fruit from the current plantation.

27 February 2019 | Agriculture

Desert Fruit Namibia (DFN), located 200 kilometres south of Karasburg, is aiming to grow its date harvest to above 1 000 tonnes per year over the next two seasons.

Agriculture minister Alpheus !Naruseb visited Desert Fruit last week to familiarise himself with their operations.

The peak season for date harvesting and packaging is currently in full swing at the farm.

Desert Fruit was established in 2005 and the first date palms were planted in 2006. The farm is one of only a handful of date producers in the southern hemisphere.

Discussions revolved around the possible future expansion of Desert Fruit and the need for continued interaction between the company and the ministry.

The sustainable use of water drawn from the Orange River and the state of the river were also discussed.

This is critical to ensure that expansion is possible.

The requirement for continued healthy collaboration between the ministry and the company was on the agenda to ensure the ease of exports through Namibia's borders.

!Naruseb also spent time with the local government organisations that interact and support the development and commercial activities at Desert Fruit and met with investor representatives.

Support was committed to continue the strong growth of Desert Fruit, as the company was expecting to move its harvest tonnage above 1 000 tonnes over the next two seasons, while further improving on quality.

According to the company this will make Desert Fruit one of the country's premier fruit exporters, while providing a valuable injection of income into the economy.

“We were extremely honoured and excited about the visit by !Naruseb and ensured that he had the chance to experience every aspect of Desert Fruit Namibia, ranging from observations in the field, reviewing the pack store - the biggest of its kind in southern Africa - and visiting our crèche. Our employees expressed their gratitude that their hard work has been recognised by the highest authority in our country,” said Charles Edmonds, Desert Fruit's technical farm manager.

!Naruseb in turn complimented Desert Fruit on its achievements and said he was impressed with its work, standards and achievements.

“I keenly observed every operation at DFN and spend time with some of the rising stars of the company, who are being groomed to take on the future management of the pack store. I am also impressed with the social structures at DFN, which ensure that the workers' children can attend the crèche and are assisted with schooling, while workers have access to the vegetable garden, butchery and shop, seeing that they are 200 kilometres away from the nearest town,” !Naruseb said.

Desert Fruit has 22 000 date palms of varying ages. In full production, the four varieties of date palms will produce an expected total of over 1 000 tonnes of export quality fruit from the current plantation. Desert Fruit is the only farm to actively farm and market speciality variants including Zamli, Khallas and Barhi in the southern hemisphere.

The company employs up to 450 staff, made up of permanent and seasonal workers during the peak season.

ELLANIE SMIT

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