WINDHOEK – “We are currently completing the packing of the valued Medjool, Khallas and Zamli dates for the Southern African, European and Middle Eastern market. During this process our investment into the 10 000 sqm meter packing and processing facility, the Desert Fruit Pack store, has proven invaluable,” says Charles Edmonds, Pack Store and Farming Technical Manager at Desert Fruit Namibia.
The store, which is run according to strict European safety standards, is the largest in Namibia and can easily compete with international facilities dealing with the processing of dates.
The store is filled with state-of-the-art equipment and the high-tech environment ensures that packaging and production work happens at optimal efficiency and effectiveness levels. The high-quality dates are individually sorted to meet strict international grading criteria and packing is expected to run through until the end of July to meet the harvest tonnage for the year.
Karoline Hendriks, shift manager emphasised the importance of trained staff and continuous skills enhancement regarding all aspects of the produce. “We are very proud of the fruit we see this year, packing has improved over the season, and the quality is reflected in the product. A strong team is developing which I am proud to be part of.”
Desert Fruit Namibia’s dates are highly rated internationally, and the company fills a much-needed gap at this time of the year. Charles explains: “The Southern African region currently does not have access to high quality middle eastern growers and product since this product has been harvested last year already during their northern hemisphere summer. So, our dates are ready – at just the right time.”
The Desert Fruit pack store and supporting buildings were one of the biggest construction programmes in recent years in the Kharas region and the largest private investment at the time. It was opened in February 2017 by the then Minister of Home Affairs and Immigration Ivula Itana.
Desert Fruit, which employs up to 450 staff comprised of permanent and seasonal workers during peak season, was established in 2005. The first date palms were planted in 2006 and the farm is one of only a handful of date producers in the Southern Hemisphere. The farm has about 22 000 date palms of varying ages. In full production the 5 varieties of date palms will produce an expected total of over 3 000 tons export quality date fruit.