Namibian grapes find their way to the US

Namibian grapes find their way to the US

AFTER six years of battling to get into the United States market, the negotiations have finally paid off after the US announced recently that Namibian grapes are now allowed into that country after meeting the strict US sanitary requirements.

The US Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service announced that it had amended its fruit and vegetable regulations to allow the importation of fresh table grapes from Namibia into the US. “As a condition of entry the grapes must undergo cold treatment and fumigation with methyl bromide.The fruit must be accompanied by a phytosanitary certificate issued by the national plant organisation of Namibia…”read a statement from the US Department of Agriculture.The General Manager of the Aussenkehr Group of companies, Andre Vermaak, yesterday told The Namibian that the decision by the American government was a welcome one for the local grape industry, as it offered an alternative market for exporters.The group, which represents eight grape-exporting companies, hopes to see higher monetary returns for the industry from entering the US market.”There is a huge market there (US) and this is good news.Hopefully we will get better returns,” said Vermaak speaking from his base at Aussenkehr in the Karas Region.He added that exports to the US would probably start next year, and that the amount to be exported would depend on the difference in buying power between the euro of the EU and the greenback of the US.The industry has been exporting table grapes to the European Union and produces some 3,4 million cartons per year for export.Each carton weighs 4,5 kg.According to the Namibian Agronomic Board, the contribution to Gross Domestic Product from grape exports amounts to around N$100 million yearly from a total turnover of N$600 million.The Horticulture Officer of the Namibian Agronomic Board, Namene Kalili, also reiterated that the US market offered a much-needed alternative market for the local grape industry, would provide more business opportunities and boost the development of Namibian grape farming.The Deputy Administrator for International Trade Policy in the US Department of Agriculture, Patricia Sheikh, who is currently in Namibia, yesterday said her Government was committed to helping Namibia develop its agricultural sector.She said due to the different seasons in the northern and southern hemispheres, Namibia could take advantage of its late harvest season and export grapes to the US during its winter between December and March.She said the ball was now in the Namibian producers’ court, who would have to market their grapes to American buyers, ensure quality produce and a reliable and constant supply of the fruit.Sheikh added that Americans appreciated African products as unique and exotic, and that Namibian grapes should be favoured for the same reason.Before Namibia, South Africa was the only sub-Saharan African country exporting grapes to the US.”As a condition of entry the grapes must undergo cold treatment and fumigation with methyl bromide.The fruit must be accompanied by a phytosanitary certificate issued by the national plant organisation of Namibia…”read a statement from the US Department of Agriculture.The General Manager of the Aussenkehr Group of companies, Andre Vermaak, yesterday told The Namibian that the decision by the American government was a welcome one for the local grape industry, as it offered an alternative market for exporters.The group, which represents eight grape-exporting companies, hopes to see higher monetary returns for the industry from entering the US market.”There is a huge market there (US) and this is good news.Hopefully we will get better returns,” said Vermaak speaking from his base at Aussenkehr in the Karas Region.He added that exports to the US would probably start next year, and that the amount to be exported would depend on the difference in buying power between the euro of the EU and the greenback of the US.The industry has been exporting table grapes to the European Union and produces some 3,4 million cartons per year for export.Each carton weighs 4,5 kg.According to the Namibian Agronomic Board, the contribution to Gross Domestic Product from grape exports amounts to around N$100 million yearly from a total turnover of N$600 million.The Horticulture Officer of the Namibian Agronomic Board, Namene Kalili, also reiterated that the US market offered a much-needed alternative market for the local grape industry, would provide more business opportunities and boost the development of Namibian grape farming. The Deputy Administrator for International Trade Policy in the US Department of Agriculture, Patricia Sheikh, who is currently in Namibia, yesterday said her Government was committed to helping Namibia develop its agricultural sector.She said due to the different seasons in the northern and southern hemispheres, Namibia could take advantage of its late harvest season and export grapes to the US during its winter between December and March.She said the ball was now in the Namibian producers’ court, who would have to market their grapes to American buyers, ensure quality produce and a reliable and constant supply of the fruit. Sheikh added that Americans appreciated African products as unique and exotic, and that Namibian grapes should be favoured for the same reason.Before Namibia, South Africa was the only sub-Saharan African country exporting grapes to the US.

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