The first consignment of export-quality grapes from Namibia were on Wednesday shipped to the Netherlands through the Port of Lüderitz.
The grapes trans-shipped through Lüderitz are produced at Aussenkehr. Since grape farming started at Aussenkehr, Namibian grapes have been exported to the Port of Rotterdam in the Netherlands via Cape Town in South Africa.
Agro-Marketing and Trade Agency (AMTA) and Namibian Port Authority (Namport) initiated the plan to conduct a trial of trans-shipping Namibian grapes via the Port of Lüderitz.
During the official commissioning of the trans-shipment of Namibian grapes through the Port of Lüderitz Minister of Agriculture, Water and Forestry John Mutorwa applauded the AMTA, which officially launched the initiative about two years ago with the aim of facilitating the marketing and trade of local agricultural products, within and beyond the borders of Namibia.
“When I, as the line minister, officially and publicly launched AMTA about two years ago, all these are exactly what I stated then and which I am reiterating today. AMTA is actively involved in facilitating the marketing and trading of fresh produce and grains, within and beyond Namibia,” he stated.
Mutorwa is confident the utilisation of the port facilities and permanent trans-shipment of Namibian grapes via the port of Lüderitz will be successfully realised and sustained.
He further indicated that in the near future AMTA’s operations in the country would include meat, chicken, eggs and other products, in addition to horticulture and grain.
The marketing and trading of local agriculture produce, originated from the national goals as articulated in Namibia’s Vision 2030 policy and have cascaded into the Fourth National Development Plan (NDP4), as well as in the Strategic Plan 2013/14 to 2016/17.
Mutorwa commended AMTA and NamPort for creating this platform and for engaging a wider audience, saying: “We, as leaders, but most importantly as workers – all of us are workers – in the agricultural sector, have high responsibilities and duties, to implement government policies and translate them into meaningful, successful and visible results.”
He indicated that the grape industry has grown rapidly in the past five years, as the export market shows increasing demand. In 2010 a total tonnage of 20 429 grapes were exported, while in 2014 a total tonnage of 29 423 of grapes were exported.
The major market for Namibian-grown grapes is currently Europe, which takes 85 percent of the exported grapes. The other markets are the Middle East, the Far East and Africa, each taking up 5 percent of Namibia’s exported grapes.
The grape industry is also creating much-needed employment for local people. During the 2015 grape production season the industry employed 5 500 permanent workers and 6 000 part-time workers.
In her welcoming remarks the Deputy Mayor Brigitte Fredricks said she believes the future of the //Karas Region – in terms of sustainable economic development – would be fully realised if the Port of Lüderitz is utilised to full capacity.
“Our great region has an abundance of natural resources and a promising agriculture sector, which can revive and sustain the Lüderitz harbour, if fully utilised for export and import purposes,” said the deputy mayor. She stated that the current negative decline in the fishing industry is a worrisome concern.
The Port of Lüderitz and the town itself could become a ghost town in future if other natural resources around the great //Karas Region are not routed or channelled through the Port of Lüderitz, she warned.
She further said Lüderitz can only become the commercial and industrial growth-point of the //Karas Region if there is positive and sustained growth in the harbour, especially with regard to the export and import of goods.
She hopes the expansion of the activities of Lüderitz harbour will cater as a transport link between Namibia and the rest of the world. Also, upon completion of the railway line, it will promote and create trading opportunities between Namibia and various countries, which will contribute to the necessary development of Lüderitz and //Karas Region in general.
Minister of Works and Transport Alpheus !Naruseb said his ministry spent a lot of money to expand the Port of Walvis Bay and promised to take up the proposal to expand the port of Lüderitz, as well as the completion of the Aus-Lüderitz railway line, with President Hage Geingob.