05 May 2004
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By: Chrispin Inambao
A GOVERNMENT project on a fertile, 40-hectare holding, some 50 km outside Keetmanshoop in the Karas region, produces a variety of table grapes.
Best known for its picturesque, rugged landscape, Hardap also boats of a dry climate a climate that is vital for commerical grapes that, unlike other crops, are rainshy. The grape cultivars, Thompson Seedless, Flame Seedless, Sugar One, Regal and Victoria are cultivated at Naute Fruit farms near Naute Dam.
Grapes on this project are meant for the lucrative European market while a tiny percentage of market while a tiny percentage of largely ungraded grapes are off-loaded onto the local market.
Japie Olivier manages this project that is run alongside the Naute Date Project.
Like at other grape farms, Thompson Seedless is the mainstay at naute Farms and is cultivated on a 20-hectare plot.
The project last year harvested 53 000 cartons of grapes of the Thompson Seedless.
Meanwhile, 85 hectares of farmland is under dates cultivation at the Naute Dates Project that is located alongside Naute Fruit Farms. Eighteen different female dates varieties of the "fruit of life" are under cultivation.
According to Paul Klein, project Manager at the Naute date project, the prime cultivars the project plants are: Medjool, Barhee, Bouffegouse.
This sweet, highly nutritious fruit known for its high calorie content is being exported to the United Kingdom (UK), France, Spain and to Singapore.
Last year it exported up to 80 tons of Medjool, Barhee and Bouffegouse with 15 tons of this consisting of Medjool Though the project expects to at last export 80 tons this year, it will sell 30 tons of dates on the local market, says Klein.
The varieties that are available locally are Khenesi, Khallas and even the Bouffegouse that is usually exported to Europe and to Singapore.
Dates production is labour intensive, as the harvesting as well as the pollination of the female plants should be done by hand. Small trees consume 500 litres of water per plant while big trees use 3600 litres per tree.
Namibian dates are usually harvested off-season when major exporters such as Israel and Tunisia have already completed their exports.