Grape farmers poised to reap N$780 million due to global shortfall

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Matheus Hamutenya

Aussenkehr-Namibian grape growers say they expect an above-average year in terms of income due to the short supply of grapes on the global market this year.

About N$780 million in revenue is forecast for the grape industry for the year 2017, N$180 million more than in 2016, as six million cartons are expected to be packed and shipped to international markets, compared to the 4.6 million cartons shipped the previous year.

New Era understands the short supply of grapes on the market is due to the fact that Peru, said to the fifth largest exporter of grapes in the world, will not be supplying as many grapes this season, as most grape farmers in that country have lost their harvest due to torrential rains caused by the El Niño phenomenon that caused extensive devastation to vineyards and affected production.

Silverlands Vineyards managing director Andre Vermaak said Peru was adversely affected, thus advantaging Namibian grape farmers, as they will not only be able to send more grapes to international markets, but also expect better prices for their produce.

“For 2017 Peru lost about 50 percent of their grapes due to flooding, so that helps us. Hopefully because of the short supply of grapes we can get more for our grapes [onto the market]. I trust that this season will be above average in terms of income,” he said.

Director of Cape Orchard Company Arjan de Kock, expressed similar sentiments, saying the industry expects to have a good year compared to the last, as there are more grapes, while the quality has also improved.
He said although only about half of the grapes have been harvested so far, it looks promising.

“There is more fruit and the quality looks good this year, so we are very excited and we think it is going to be a good year. We expect a turnover of about N$780 million if we get good prices,” he said.

He was, however, quick to point out that people often mistake turnover with profit, saying a huge income does not mean the companies make huge profits, as they have to cover production-related expenses and interest on loans. “The turnover does not mean I make a very good profit, this is a capital and labour-intensive industry,” he explained.

He said despite challenges, such as the availability of water, the grape industry is growing stronger and offers better wages than most industries in Namibia.

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