Windhoek-Desert Fruit Namibia, a Namibian-registered private company producing dates and bulbs on the banks of the Orange River, recently revealed new technology in the form of Date Cage Harvesting, attached to new Manitou telehandlers. This new equipment has been designed and implemented in association with the Namibian company, Expert Mining Solutions.
Seth Holmes, Managing Director of Desert Fruit Namibia explained: “We are proud of the new technology, which enhances our output and contributes towards a more effective and efficient operation. The new cages can carry up to six people and hold more than one tonne of produce before needing an offload. Not only do these cages carry more weight, enabling us to harvest more with each lift; they are also equipped with lights for night harvesting to avoid the day-time heat while guaranteeing a fresher product.”
Anton Ferreira, Managing Director Namibia, Expert Mining Solutions Namibia – Manitou/ Gehl, expressed gratitude towards Desert Fruit Namibia for the business opportunity.
“This technology has not been used in Namibia before and we are thus understandably proud of the achievement and milestone moment for Desert Fruit Namibia. Date trees can reach 20 metres in height and most trees over 10 years of age cannot be reached with a ladder. Therefore, this equipment was designed to reach a maximum height of 18 metres while ensuring the safety of the operator and cage worker. Electrical and hydraulic closing operations, one of the main features, for example, guarantee that control is exercised over the speed of operation and safety of handling.”
New and innovative technology and designs are needed to support the expanding business, which in turn contributes towards the GDP of the country, employment creation and long-term sustainability. Desert Fruit Namibia says it further invests in training and the enhancement of the skill base of workers. Six operators have been trained on the new equipment, while all cage workers have undergone safety training and are issued with protective clothing and harness equipment.
“Our operators have voiced their happiness as they are able to harvest, day and night, in a stable and safe environment. The output achieved thus far shows that the new equipment is a win-win for all,” Holmes said.
Desert Fruit was established in 2005 and the first date palms were planted in 2006. The farm is one of only a handful of date producers in the Southern Hemisphere. Desert Fruit has 22,000 date palms of varying ages. In full production, the five varieties of date palms can produce over 3,000 tonnes export quality date fruit. Desert Fruit is the only farm to actively farm and market speciality variants including Zamli, Khallas and Barhi in the Southern Hemisphere.
The company proudly employs up to 450 staff members, made up of permanent and seasonal workers during peak season.