The Selebi Phikwe Economic Diversification Unit (SPEDU) is taking leaps by supporting business development and facilitating various projects in the northern region. In a bid to lessen fresh produce import and augment supply of locally produced horticultural products, National Agro Processing (NaPro), a Selibe Phikwe based horticultural plant will soon be launched in the region.
The northern region accommodates many horticultural farmers some of whom practise professional horticulture. The region has over the years come up with various projects that have created employment and infrastructural developments in that region. The National Agro Processing plant is expected to create 41 direct jobs and recruitment for is currently ongoing.
The NAPRO project is the first of its kind in Botswana. National Food Technology Research Centre (NFTRC) Public Relations Manager, Thatayaone Mmamosese Kepaletswe said, “The NAPRO plant project is intended to mitigate on spoilage of excess produce by farmers, provide a receptacle (market) for lower quality grade produce, thus facilitating provision of premium quality products to the fresh market and also provide a pilot factory for roll out to clustered horticulture produce farms with critical mass”.
The success of this plant is dependent upon the cooperation of all stakeholders namely farmers, extension officers, support institutions, retailers amongst others.
“Farmers will be able to compete better, observe regulations on the use of pesticides because produce will be tested and that which fails will be rejected. The plant will assist farmers to be more professional and will create employment by expanding production,” said Kepaletswe.
The P10.9million Poverty Eradication Programme funded plant will initially produce tomato sauce, tomato puree, mixed vegetables, pickled onions, pickled beetroot and dried vegetables. More products will be introduced in the near future.
Besides the impediments of having to customise the factory shell, electricity upgrade, shell partitioning to industry specifics and the procurement of the plant machinery, the plant is well equipped and will be officially commissioned on the 27th of May at the Selibe Phikwe industrial area.