New pack house boosts farm­ers ex­port busi­ness

Vuk'uzenzele - - General - Siya Miti

NEW FARM­ING in­fra­struc­ture to grow the farm­ing sec­tor of the Eastern Cape and en­tice young peo­ple into agri­cul­ture.

Three com­mer­cial cit­rus farm­ers in Ngqushwa in the Eastern Cape no longer have to worry about their har­vest be­ing spoilt thanks to the pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment that handed over a R55-mil­lion pack­house.

The new pack house has up­dated stor­age fea­tures which will help im­prove the qual­ity and life­span of the cit­rus fruit wait­ing to be ex­ported.

The farm­ers pro­duce over 300 hectares of cit­rus.

One of the farm­ers is Ham­bile Nyamezele, who grows 49 hectares of Va­len­cia oranges, Sat­suma, Cle­men­tine and man­darin, which are ex­ported to Europe, the Mid­dle East, Canada and Rus­sia. He said the new pack house would boost prof­itabil­ity.

In the old fa­cil­ity built in 1927, they could not pack all their fruit, es­pe­cially soft cit­rus for a long time, said Nyamezele

He added that this led to farm­ers us­ing ex­ces­sive amounts of money on fre­quent trips to their sup­pli­ers to en­sure that the pro­duce were de­liv­ered to lo­cal and ex­port mar­kets with­out get­ting spoiled.

“We had to travel about 80 kilo­me­tres on a gravel road to Fort Beau­fort , which is a very ex­pen­sive trip. If you ex­pect 90 per­cent ex­port, in re­al­ity it would only be 60 per­cent be­cause some of your pro­duce would spoil and be lost,” said Nyamezele.

He added that farm­ers had to take turns dur­ing har­vest time which was also bad for busi­ness.

“Now we can all har­vest at the same time and also store our pro­duce at the same time with­out wor­ry­ing that it will be spoiled. We have a cool­ing sys­tem which keeps the fruit fresh for a longer pe­riod,” said Nyamezele.

Pro­vin­cial Agri­cul­ture MEC Xo­lile Nqatha said the in­vest­ment made by his de­part­ment was in line with grow­ing the num­ber of farm­ers in the re­gion along with en­tic­ing young peo­ple to join the agri­cul­tural sec­tor.

“If the ma­jor­ity of SoutH AFrICAns stArtED Grow­InG their own vEG­EtA­BlEs, im­mense strIDEs woulD BE mADE In a very short tImE to AD­DrEss FooD sE­Cu­rIty AnD povErty Al­lE­vI­A­tIon.”

Farm­ers in the Eastern Cape will grow their busi­nesses thanks to a new pack house do­nated by gov­ern­ment.

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