By Gcina Ginindza 19 October 2018
Completed packhouse structure at Maplotini, Lavumisa.
Maplotini, Lavumisa - True to their promise of increasing the number of packhouses in the country, the High Value Crop Horticulture Project(HVCHP), under the auspices of the Swaziland Water and Agricultural Development Enterprise(SWADE) and the National Agricultural Marketing Board(NAMBoard) yesterday received the keys to the first structure of the three pack houses to be constructed in Lavumisa, Jabulani and Msahweni areas respectively.
Present at the handing over of the structure were representatives from the project sponsor European Union (EU), HVCHP, SWADE, NAMBoard, Contractor, Local Farmers and Local Umphakatsi. Every speaker alluded and appreciated the good quality work done by the contractor within the given timeline, and without any disruptions and negative reports.
Attendees listening attentively as they were briefed about the project
This E8 million worth structure is a replication of the eNcabeni Fresh Produce market that houses a low care facility where conventional vegetables such as beetroot, butternut and green peper will be handled.
Also found inside the medium care facility is a section whereby baby vegetables such as baby marrow, cucumbers, patty pans, green beans, baby cabbage and baby corn will be handled. These areas, are distinctly separated from each other such that operations in the low care area will not affect the medium care area. Furthermore, this packhouse has a high-care facility where extreme hygiene is a key. This area is where there is chopping, dicing and cubing of vegetables which are then packaged as mixed veggies or according to customer specification.
The packhouse will also boast of a conveyor belt that will ease the movement of produce within the packhouse to reduce prospective damage which is usually due to excessive handling. It also includes more accessories such as a state of art boardroom for meetings, a tuckshop to provide farmgate prices to locals and walk-in customers. The hygiene of employees and crates has not been underscored since the structure has a washbay and dryroom which will also enhance the international standard (HACCP) accreditation of the structure. It also boasts of a laundry room where employees will wash their aprons and protective clothing, shower rooms and restrooms for both males and females separately.
SWADE’s Mduduzi Nkonyane explaining about the project to the attendees
NAMBoard’s representative alluded that the project came at the right time when the Board is in a drive to increase the volumes of export produce, which means that local farmers can now increase their production of baby vegetables because historically the area had been undone by the distance to the eNcabeni packhouses in Matsapha. The construction of this packhouse means that farmers can now control their produce deliveries to the packhouse, within their preferred timelines and this will maintain high quality produce, which used to deteriorate as the produce was waiting for collection.
The next steps towards the finalization of the packhouse construction is the fitting of the cold rooms and equipment, to make it functional. This is targeted in the second phase tender by the HVCHP.