NAMIBIA has become the fifth country and first-ever in Africa to export white asparagus to Spain, in addition to others in Europe, Asia, and South America.
Asparagus is largely consumed in Europe where it is exported, only a small amount of the vegetables is consumed in Namibia due to it being not well-known.
Technical Officer of Otjimbele Agriculture for OBL Groupon Group of Companies, Giel Boshoff, said the delicious vegetable gets exported to Spain after it is packaged at its factory in Oshifo.
Currently, Boshoff said they only produce white asparagus for exporting while plans are being made to start producing the green asparagus for the local market.
He explained that asparagus is more loved and consumed in the European countries, while in Namibia people do not understand the benefits of asparagus farming which means that the vegetable is not popular in the country.
The asparagus agro-processing farm started in Etunda in 2017, with seedlings that came from Tsumeb.
“We have a total of 300 hectares for farming, however in the beginning, only 30 hectares were used to test if the plants would be able to adapt to the weather and conditions at Etunda,” said Boshoff.
He indicated that asparagus takes about a year to grow and the more matured the plants get, the more vegetables can be harvested.
The first harvest of 100 tons of asparagus, occurred in February this year and it was bottled, canned, and exported to Europe.
“The second harvest took place in June, but the production level was low and we only stored it to add on the one for next year in order to export it all at once,” he said.
Boshoff noted that next’s year harvest will be done during June/July and anticipate harvesting 500 tons from four different farms.
Boshoff stated that during the harvesting period a total of 400 temporary jobs are created, while 17 people are employed permanently for maintaining the fields.
Thus far, a total of 250 hectares had been prepared for planting, however, only 150 hectares have been planted currently.
Minister of Agriculture, Water and Land Reform Calle Schlettwein said he is happy that the asparagus is one of the green scheme projects that is doing well.
Although much of the production is exported to the European market, Schlettwein stated that he is hopeful that the vegetable will be introduced to local markets in order to contribute to the economy of the country.