Producing Greens for the Nation

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By Surihe Gaomas OKAHANDJA Greenhouse farming is one way to ensure that the national Green Scheme project comes up with products for the local market and produce the much-needed food for the nation. One such business that’s operating under this momentum is the locally owned Greencrisp Farming production scheme situated about four kilometres from the town of Okahandja. For the past five years the company has been specialising in producing English cucumbers and other greens like red, green and yellow peppers as well as lettuce for the local market. All these products fall under the ‘Greencrisp’ brand name. When the New Era team recently visited the greenhouse site, production was progressing very well for the Greencrisp owners Anton Koekemoer and his wife Liza. “We are already over-producing and the Namibian market is so small,” said Koekemoer, adding that they supply 80 000 English cucumbers per month to local wholesalers like Fresh Mark, Frescho and Fruit & Veg City. Assisting the local market is of paramount importance to this farming venture and as a result many local communities in and around Okahandja have been beneficiaries. Some of these include the Five Rand Primary School in the squatter settlement near the town and the HIV/Aids Home Based Care at the same place. Furthermore, such a local production has also empowered the local community of the town to engage in learning the skills and technicalities of a seasonal business like vegetable farming. In light of this, 80 local people are currently employed at the scheme, mainly coming from the disadvantaged group of the Nau-aib location. In order to maintain disease control of the new seedlings and plants on the site the wheels of all trucks and vehicles that enter the premises are washed with a sterilized chemical and workers as well as visitors on the premises are required to wash their hands upon entry. “We must control diseases as these are very disease-sensitive plants and that is why all the workers wear white overalls, gloves and hair nets as this is a very hygienic environment,” explained Koekemoer, showing the news team around the three, one-and-a-half hectare greenhouses on the site. Most of the English cucumbers have a total three-month life cycle after which new seedlings have to be planted. Small lettuce sprouts are covered with a white net protecting them against frost and heat. The site also consists of a storage facility and packing structure. All of the seedlings of Greencrisp Farming are locally cultivated. For a long time Namibia has been known for importing many of the different variety of peppers and cucumbers from neighbouring South Africa. Almost 80 percent of all vegetables are imported from that country and as of late the government has pressed upon the need for Namibians to grow their own vegetables. In view of this, Green-crisp Farming is seen to be heading in the right direction and making a positive contribution to food production based on the Green Scheme initiative.