NAMIBIA – The government of Nambia in partnership with Spanish company, Indusrias Alimentarias de Navarra has inaugurated its first asparagus processing factory in the country’s northern region of Omusati.

It is a result of a 10-year memorandum of understanding that Namibia signed with the Spanish company trading as Otjimbele Agriculture in 2017 to lease 60 hectares of irrigable land to grow asparagus.

The Spanish company said it had chosen Namibia to host its new processing factory in Africa, in addition to others in Europe, Asia and South America.

This had followed an experimental research study for the plantation of asparagus in the Omusati region in 2015 which proved viable to grow such a crop in the region.

Construction started in July last year to be sustained by a 360-hectare (ha) production area. Its estimated its construction cost to be N$25 million (US$1.6m).

“The contribution of the agro-processing industry to real value-addition by the manufacturing sector is of vital importance, and will need all our concerted efforts to ensure that this sector contributes its fair share to the government’s coffers,” said Vice President Nangolo Mbumba.

“The asparagus agro-processing plant will act as a catalyst for sustained economic growth and shared prosperity,” the vice president added.

The factory has 300 permanent workers of whom 80% are women, and 200 contract workers, who are only employed during harvesting time.

The asparagus will be exported to Spain, and other European countries and only about 5% will be consumed in Namibia.

The production of asparagus is not only aimed for export purposes, but also to ensure that small-scale farmers are assisted to engage in high-income crop production and thus increase the rural purchasing power.

The company is planning to teach local people how to cultivate asparagus and how to elaborate a natural preserve which will give the opportunity for local businesses to flourish while supplying any need related with the processing factory.

According to world atlas report, China is the leading asparagus producing country in the world. It produces 7.35 million metric tons of asparagus every year, exporting only 4,553 metric tons.

Followed by Peru producing 376,645 metric tons annually and Mexico producing 119,789 metric tons annually.

In Africa asparagus is mainly grown in southern Africa (South Africa, Lesotho) and North Africa (Tunisia), whereas in tropical Africa it is found in the highlands of Eastern Africa (Kenya, Uganda, Zimbabwe).