By Chrispin Inambao AUSSENKEHR EXOTIC International experienced good fortune in 2005 by increasing last year’s harvest of 200 000 cartons of grapes to 322 000 boxes it exported outside Namibia. This export-quality fruit was harvested from a 100-hectare piece of land at Grape Valley where Exotic International is among the concerns involved in grape farming. The increased production to 322 000 cartons from the 200 000 recorded in 2004 was attributed mainly to change in the management of the export-oriented grape company. From a twenty-four hectare plot E.I. reaped some 30 000 cartons of Prime Seedless and Flame Seedless, yielding 12 000 cartons from three hectares of land. The fruit of the Red Globe picked from 12 hectares of land consisted of 40 000 units. The harvest this year also included some 200 000 boxes of Sultana picked from a plot measuring 54 hectares. Dan Ben Hanna constituted 40 000 boxes. E.I. started harvesting its last consignment of Prime Seedless in October followed by Flame Seedless. The last grape consignments to be picked and packed for export at E.I. consisted of Red Globe, Dan Ben Hanna and the Sultana varieties of grape. The lion’s share of this harvest was exported to the U.K. and to other European markets while a consignment consisting of some 15 000 boxes was sold locally and in South Africa. Some of the grapes were exported to Namibia’s northern neighbour Angola. Deon Brand, who also runs E.I. as its managing director, said apart from sound management principles the bountiful harvest could also be linked to favourable weather conditions which resulted in there being no steep fluctuations in temperature from the cold to the hot season. The highly energetic Deon Brand says Namibia’s table grape industry like other traditional exports is battling because of a strong local currency, the South African Rand/Namibian Dollar. “The industry is struggling because of the strong currency. We are all battling to survive. We need strong support from the Government,” he said in an interview at Aussenkehr. In response to a question he was in concert with other experts in the grape industry saying: “Instead of the Government spending the N$360 million on the green scheme, why can’t they help to stabilise the industry in terms of building social infrastructure such as houses and tarred roads for workers, clinics, hospitals, crÃƒÆ’Ã†’Ãƒâ€ ‘ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Â ‘ÃƒÆ’Ã†”Ã…Â¡ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â¨ches, schools and water infrastructure.” His views with regard to the planned green scheme were also shared by a group of resettled farmers who feel the Government should screen the individuals pushing for this scheme as they are the ones who in the past failed to run similar schemes resulting in millions of dollars going down the drain. Brand feels it is unfair that the industry should be left to pay for the erection of the social infrastructure that is badly needed to upgrade this rapidly expanding settlement.
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