Dates industry garners N$160 000 in revenue

Date production in Namibia has earned about N$160 750 in total revenue for 2015, with income generated from the Orange River Irrigation Project (ORIP).
The Agricultural Business Development (AgriBusDev) entity has reported that from the total revenue of N$160 750, N$56 250 comes from Bahree dates, and N$104 500 from madjool dates.
About N$138 851 was the total profit, with total costs for production and costs of distribution deducting N$21 149 and N$750, respectively.
Namibia is still in its developing stages when it comes to date production, Agribusdev agronomist Paulus Mungoba said.
“Date production in Namibia still at the pioneer stage since it is only produced commercially at ORIP at Aussenkehr and the Namibia Development Corporation (NDC) site at Naute,” he added.
Mungoba said dates are only produced once a year from the months of March to May, and the yield varies according to management practices. In their strategic plan for 2015- 2020, Agribusdev reported that there is potential that they would generate approximately N$13 million in profit from the ORIP scheme by 2016.
The ORIP scheme is situated some 50 km from Noordoewer in the //Karas region, producing primarily table grapes and dates for the export markets.
ORIP covers an area of 600 hectares, of which 232 hectares are currently under construction. The commercial component occupies 152 hectares, with 80 hectares housing small-scale farmers.
The project is currently being managed by Cool Fresh Namibia and the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry.
“They are contributing to the national economy since they are produced along commercial linmes, which make the yield higher”, Mungoba responded to a question on the economic contribution of dates.
He said the biggest challenge faced with commercially transmitting date products onto the bigger economic scene locally is the local market itself.
“There is less awareness on dates, and its nutritional value has not yet been introduced fully to local people,” he lamented.
The future development of date production will also increase revenue and income for Agribusdev.
Namibia also export its dates, and those produced at Aussenkehr are exported only to South Africa, although there are other markets around the globe willing to buy these dates, Mungoba told The Villager.
“I think dates from Naute are marketed in Arab countries, because we only have some cultivars, and there are thousands of cultivars. Therefore, retailers and supermarkets do import dates,” he stated.
The collective projected income generated through the production of grapes, dates, the production levy as well as lease and management fees would be an estimated N$34 million by 2019, a significant portion of Agribusdev’s total operational budget.
 Situated 90km west of Khorixas, the Namibia Development Corporation (NDC)-run project recorded its biggest harvest of 35 tonnes of Madjool dates during the last financial year since its inception in the late 1970’s.
Before the 2013 bumper harvest, the project’s highest-ever recorded harvest stood at 16 tonnes and 20 tonnes, respectively during the 2011 and 2012 financial years.  
Namibia’s semi-arid environment is ideal for date-farming as it does not require huge amounts of water to be sustainable.
The irrigated 40-hectare farm Eersbegin is currently home to 2 300 date palms, of which 1 400 are in full production.