NAMIBIA – Namibia is celebrating a significant milestone in its agricultural sector with the production and sale of its first commercial apples.

These locally grown apples are now available in retail shops across the country, marking a new chapter in Namibia’s efforts to boost domestic fruit production.

The Namibian Agronomic Board (NAB) reports that the country’s fruit production sector currently accounts for just 4% of local fruit consumption, producing a modest 732 tons compared to the 20,282 tons imported annually.

The vast majority of Namibia’s fruits—about 97%—are imported from South Africa, according to the International Trade Centre (ITC) in 2020.

Historically, Namibia has heavily relied on imports to meet its fruit demand. During the 2018/2019 financial year alone, the country imported over 8,300 tons of apples, 5,084 tons of bananas, 3,347 tons of oranges, 1,114 tons of pears, and 998 tons of grapes. The value of these imports reached about N$210 million in 2017/2018 and N$209 million in 2018/2019.

The Roots Farm: Pioneering Local Apple Production

The Roots farm, a privately owned project located 60 km southwest of Mariental on the route to the Kalahari, is at the forefront of this agricultural breakthrough.

The farm houses 27,600 apple trees that yield between 50 to 70 tons per harvest annually. This apple project is the first of its kind in Namibia and produces apples of various sizes.

In 2021, a delegation from the Roots Agricultural village in Stampriet visited Agribank to present and showcase their initial apple harvest, which was co-financed by the bank.

At this event, team leader Willien Meiring highlighted the innovative approach of the Roots project, emphasizing its goal of creating agricultural towns that can develop local economies and eventually export products internationally.

“Our vision is to ensure food security in Namibia,” Meiring stated. “As a country, we cannot afford to depend on other countries for our food supply. We also want to ensure skills development in farming.”

The Roots project is structured into two main sections: subsistence farming units aimed at empowering locals with their own title deeds, and a commercial section with over 50 agricultural plots. The commercial venture, partly financed by Agribank, includes the apple project.

Meiring also mentioned the establishment of a school and plans for an agricultural college dedicated to training and equipping farmers to become sustainable entrepreneurs.

This initiative aims to address Namibia’s high unemployment rate by fostering skills development in the agricultural sector.

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