SHADIKONGORO: The production of cooking oil at the Shadikongoro irrigation project, which was halted due to the cold weather experienced in the middle of the year, has started again.
The irrigation project is situated some 180 kilometres east of Rundu.
The project stopped processing oil at the beginning of winter as the cold slowed down the process of filtering the oil, making it time-consuming and expensive as the drawn-out process used a lot of electricity.
To extract oil from a sunflower plant, the temperature of the room where the extraction is done should be above 20 degrees Celsius, and this makes it less expensive as less filter pipes are used.
Shadikongoro Irrigation Project Manager Floris Smith told Nampa on the sidelines of the second harvesting of Namibian grown barley here on Monday that oil production at the project commenced at the end of August – the onset of spring.
Smith said the project made a terrible loss on oil processing due to the stoppage brought about by the cold weather, but could not disclose the exact losses incurred by the project.
About 108 litres of cooking oil have been produced since production started up again, and it is expected that more than 13 000 litres of oil will be produced this summer.
Due to the low quantity of oil produced, the project is at this stage unable to commercialise the cooking oil, and has thus resorted to selling it to the local communities at a cost of N.dollars 12.50 per litre, while 20 litres are sold at N.dollars 280.
Sunflowers for the project are grown on a 100-hectare piece of land, from where about 25 per cent of the project’s oil is extracted. To commercialise the cooking oil, the project needs to produce at least 8 000 tonnes of sunflower seeds per year.
Plans to commercialise the cooking oil process are on the cards, and a business plan has already been presented to Minister of Agriculture, Water and Forestry John Mutorwa.
The design for the label of the cooking oil has also been registered with the Ministry of Trade and Industry, while a barcode was obtained and registered in Johannesburg, South Africa last year.
The nutritional value of the cooking oil has also been registered in Cape Town, South Africa.
The project has so far established a cooking oil processing plant, where 94 tonnes of sunflower seeds produce 25 000 litres of cooking oil.
If plans to produce the cooking oil on a commercial basis succeed, the product might also be used as part of the Government’s drought relief aid programme, and would become the first Green Scheme project to fully commercialise its products.