The country’s growers are coming to the end of an excellent harvest, with its export target in reach

All indications are that the Namibian table grape industry will hit its export target of 9.1m cartons, and with the harvesting and packing season now coming to an end, growers are reflecting on a year of excellent quality.

Sun World Sugrafiftythree Ruby Rush

Sun World’s Sugrafiftythree variety

While the harvest has been good, it does not tell the full story of the season.

Due to well publicised problems at Cape Town’s container terminal, exporters and logistical service providers had to use innovative solutions to overcome delays and get their grapes into global markets.

This included shipments via the port of Walvis Bay, which according to Kobus Bothma of Capespan Namibia was very successful.

‘We are all sad that service in Cape Town’s container terminal has dropped to this level because it will always be our preferred export port as long as there is good service,” he said.

Capespan Namibia is one of those companies that sought the alternative solution via Walvis Bay.

“For us it was a major success, and at the same time we relieved some of the pressure on Cape Town,” Bothma explained. ”We will certainly include this into our planning for next year because we successfully loaded containers on three vessels in Walvis Bay.”

From a quality point of view the Namibian growers had an excellent year – but there were some concerns about problems that may result from the delays in Cape Town.

It was also a season in which new varieties were again tested and evaluated in experimental vineyards, something that has become part and parcel of the operations on virtually every table grape farm.

This year there was again much focus on early red varieties – particularly to replace Flame Seedless, which has become outdated.

Bothma said there was much focus on Sun World’s Sufrafiftythree variety, which has recently been tested in the country, and on this season’s evidence Capespan Namibia will plant the first commercial vineyards in 2024

“It has very good colour and taste and we were generally very pleased with the variety’s performance,” he confirmed.