By Chrispin Inambao KEETMANSHOOP NAUTE Fruit Farms expects earnings of N$6 million for exporting seedless grape plus a consignment of high-quality dates in the 2005 season, says Paul Klein the manager of the farm owned by the Namibian Development Corporation outside Keetmanshoop. The export of the fruit is being done by Karsten Farms sales agent stationed in Upington in South Africa that sells fruit to the U.K and to markets in Europe. Forty hectares is under irrigation covered with grape vines at Naute where eighty-five hectares are planted with export-quality dates. Five of these hectares are planted with Flame Seed- less, Sultana consists of fourteen hectares, Sucra One is six hectares while Victoria is five and the remaining ten hectares consists of Regal. Klein who last year had to deal with labour unrest that had racial connotations said up to 90 000 by 4,5 kg boxes, are going to be packed for export in the harvest that commenced on November 23 will conclude during the first week of January 2006. The harvest from Naute would consist of 14 000 cartons of Flame Seedless, Sucra One (18 000), Victoria (10 000) and the Sultana cultivar would consist of 48 000 cartons. The grape farm employs a permanent labour force consisting of twenty people and it further provides jobs to 170 seasonal workers. Kelin says the grape farm experienced an increase of 150 percent in grape when compared to the 20004 season whereby a crippling labour dispute impacted adversely on production. He attributes the increase in production mainly to the existing excellent labour relations coupled with a good management. New Era was also informed the farm expects a harvest of 160 tons from the eighty- five hectares under production at the farm near Keetmanshoop. The harvest will consist of eighteen female date varieties with the main cultivars being Barhee and Medjool (60 tons). Once harvested in the first quarter of 2006 this produce would also be exported to markets in the U.K and Europe. The farming of dates also saw an increase of around 50 percent “due to younger trees getting into production,” the farm manager said upon inquiry. Thirty percent of the dates are expected to be sold locally fetching reasonable prices.
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