It has been said that Namibia’s climate and weather conditions make it impossible to produce fruits such as apples.

As a result Namibia has always relied on South Africa for its supply of apples and pears.

But just a few days ago a delegation from the Roots Agricultural Project at Stampriet in the south of Namibia paid a courtesy visit to Agribank’s head office in Windhoek, to present and showcase their first harvest from the apple project that was co-financed by Namibian agricultural bank.

Speaking at the occasion, team leader Ms Willien Meiring explained that the Roots project believes in a new concept of creating agricultural towns that first create a mini-local economy and grow exponentially to an extent that they export products to international markets.

Meiring explained that their farming development is divided into two sections. The first is the subsistence farming units with own title deeds aimed at empowering local people to participate in farming. The other part comprises of a commercial section that consist of over 50 agricultural plots.

Agribank co-financed part of the commercial venture on which the apple project was started.

“Our vision is to ensure food security in Namibia. As a country we cannot afford to be depending on other countries to supply us with food.

“We also want to ensure skills development in farming. We recently opened a school and we are set to establish an agricultural college that will train and equip farmers to become sustainable entrepreneurs in order to curb the high unemployment rate in the country,” Meiring explained.

According to her, the apple project recently obtained a local market and they are currently working on a trademark for their products that will be used in the market. In the near future, she said, Roots plans to intensify their apple production for foreign markets to earn foreign currency needed for the country as well as to create sustainable jobs for Namibians.

“As you may all be aware, Namibia’s biggest foreign currency earner, tourism, is the most adversely affected sector by Covid-19. So, at Roots we believe that agriculture can replace tourism as a foreign currency earner.

Therefore, for us being here today is to just say to you that, we had a dream, here are the results, we are very happy for what we have achieved and really appreciate Agribank in supporting us in our dreams,” she told the meeting.

On his part, Agribank’s chief executive officer Mr Sakaria Nghikembua reiterated the bank’s mandate as a role-player in enabling the transformation of the agricultural sector to facilitate food security, job creation and economic growth.

“Thank you for coming back to show us the product. We are happy to see that you are making progress. For us as a bank, we have a clear mandate of enabling the transformation of agriculture in this country through innovative and affordable financing solutions. We can’t be relying on South Africa for almost everything.

“So, we need to ask ourselves as a nation why can’t we produce our own vegetables, onions, tomatoes and other basic foodstuffs? It’s not only about having our own products but also all our efforts are aimed at supporting initiatives that create jobs and grow the economy,” Nghikembua enthused.

The Roots’ apple project is the first ever commercial apple orchard in Namibia and produces apples in different sizes.

In the photo: Willien Meiring and Mariska Botes (in the middle) from the Stampriet Roots Project handing over apples as a token of appreciation to the Agribank team.