Mega olive oil harvest expected

HENTIES BAY

26 May 2017 | Agriculture

A bumper harvest from the olive plantation at the Seal Processing Factory in Henties Bay is expected this month.

Manager Gys Cilliers told Nampa on Wednesday the plantation’s second harvest since last year May will be performed in about two weeks and there are plentiful fruits to be harvested. About 20 tons will be harvested this year compared to the previous four tons.

The plantation consists of 1 000 olive trees on a four hectare area that were introduced in 2013 to create permanent employment for Namibians at the processing factory.

The seal processing facility only operates from July to November every year.

From planting, olive trees take about three years to bear fruits that take about one year to ripen before being processed into olive oil and preserved for consumption as is. There are 96 Namibians permanently employed at the seal factory and they join others when the olives are harvested and processed.

“There are four permanent employees at the plantation but we will recruit between 30 and 40 extra women to help us harvest.”

Employees interviewed by Nampa on Thursday said they are grateful for the employment opportunity and hope the plantation continues to grow.

“I was first working at the seal factory where I was paid N$14,50 an hour but when I moved to the olives, I am getting N$17,50 an hour, so there is more money for me,” said Johannes !Auxab.

Mario Kambahe said the employment provided to the community during harvest is much needed. “A lot of people have no jobs so when this project employs them, I think it is very helpful.”

Cilliers said the fruit will be processed and extra virgin or cold pressed olive oil will be produced at the factory for the local market.

Extra virgin olive oil is produced through an extraction process where the olives are pressed for the first time. Cold pressing preserves the flavour at about 26 Degrees Celsius. Pressing the olives at a higher temperature does mean more oil coming out of one press but the heat destroys the flavours and aromas.

The production process as explained by Cilliers involves crushing olives into a thin paste using a machine before the paste is transferred to another machine and mixed thoroughly. After that, a separation machine is used to siphon the oil from the pulp after which the liquid is filtered, bottled and distributed to retailers.

Cilliers noted the plantation was last year expanded with 3 000 plants that are expected to bear fruits within the next two years.

“We also planted guava and figs as a pilot project and they proved to be growing well, so next year we will plant more.”

The olive plantation also expanded with 1 000 grape vines on the same plot and Cilliers said they expect to harvest and produce wine within about two years.

He said the olive plantation is now waiting for the Henties Bay Town Council to approve the application for more land before another expansion will be executed, but to a limit below 20 hectares in total.

Cilliers said they have a limit of expansion because the project is sustained by underground water from the Omaruru River. “We will limit it to nine hectares to avoid depleting the underground water.”

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