Namibia Development Corporation
Constituted Under Act 18 of 1993
Ministry of Trade and Industry and the Namibia Development Corporation (NDC) met on 15 May 2013 to officially inaugurate the NDC Solar PhotoVoltaic System which is used to reduce daytime electricity consumption. Monthly energy use hovers between 20,000 & 26,000 units while the average energy use of the PV system will be between 8,400 units per month. With this installation, NDC is expected to save monthly energy cost by between 30-40%.
WHILE dust settles over drought-stricken Namibia, date palms are blooming and business is booming at the country’s first date farm Eersbegin. Situated 90km west of Khorixas, the Namibia Development Corporation (NDC) run project recorded its biggest harvest of 35 tonnes of medjool dates during the last financial year, since its inception in the late 1970’s. Before the 2013 bumper harvest, the projects’ highest-ever recorded harvest stood at 16 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, while 200 are Bumper date crop at Eersbegin currently in a semi-productive state due to the high alkaline levels in the soil. According to project manager Jacques Joubert, the Eersbegin date farm was created following the implementation of the notorious Odendaal Plan and began experimenting with mixed medjool and barhee date palms. The project, however, never really kicked-off, because the mixed palm tree crop planted at the time did not adapt well to the surroundings to produce fruit. Medjool dates are more economical to farm as they can be stored for close to a year and still be marketable, while barhee dates are fragile and are usually marketed within 3 weeks of harvesting. When planted young, date palm trees take about 7 years to produce any marketable date fruits. With the introduction of medjool dates after the advent of independence, Joubert said, the projects biggest challenge comes into play when heavy rainfall occurs. “Rain is bad for date farming. The water brings large numbers of insects and other parasites that destroy the dates. The more rain we receive the more dates we lose.” He said the project records good harvests with an annual rainfall of about 140mm, and below par harvests when the precipitation exceeds more than 350mm. Yearly harvesting at Eersbegin usually commences at the end of February, throughout March and ends in April. After picking, the dates are transported to Khorixas were they are sorted and stored while waiting to be exported to Europe and Middle Eastern countries. The project’s development has, and continues to benefit the community in areas of desertification control, crop diversification, and direct employment possibilities. There are 12 permanent staff with a reinforcement of 20 additional casual workers during harvesting. “Although small, Eersbegin is significant in the development of the date industry in Namibia. It is the first date farm in the country, and was instrumental in assisting with the creation of the biggest date farm in Namibia,” Joubert concluded, while referring to the 480 barhee trees from Eersbegin that were replanted at Naute date farm in 2011.
Above: MTI Minister, Callie Schlettwein (middle), and NDC Board Chairman, John Nekwaya (right), receiving an explanation on the new Solar PhotoVoltaic system.
Above: Date plantation @ Eersbegin