THE KAVANGO EAST REGION HOME TO A MULTI-MILLION DOLLAR BLUE BERRY PLANTATION.

Namibia for the first time is producing blueberries on a commercial scale, as a result of a private investment to the tune of N$90 million. This is first large scale commercial production of blueberries in Namibia under the Mashare Berries project. This investment in the region forms part of the Spitz Capital Fund anchored in the Government Institutions Pension Fund’s (GIPF) unlisted investment programme. The project is situated some 45 kilometers east of Rundu in the Mashare Constituency

Spitz Capital resorts under Königstein Capital serves as an investment manager for specific, targeted GIPF investments. The blueberry plantation is grown on a 20 hectares of land apportioned from the Mashare Green Scheme project.  An additional 25 hectares of the Mashare green scheme is used to cultivating maize, potatoes, wheat and vegetables.

The Project Manager is Izack Grobbelaar, a Mechanical Engineer by profession says this is the first major project he is managing and he is committed to see its fruition. He says inception of the project started last year in June with land preparation and planting of the seedlings took place in November and December 2019.

 “About N$90 million has been invested in the project (earmarked) for the project. The Blueberry farming is the first of its kind in Namibia to be explored at the Mashare Irrigation Green scheme.   The blueberries are imported as seedlings from Spain before they are planted.”

There are three varieties that are being planted namely, Jupiter, Etnas and Bianca and this produce is earmarked for the both local and international markets such as the UK, Europe, Middle East and South Africa.

Grobbelaar says the project currently employs thirty (30) permanent staff with fifty (50) to two hundred (200) casual employees. “At the peak of harvesting, the project will require about 150 to 160 people for 3 to 4 months for this year. Once in full production capacity about 600 people will be needed for the harvesting season.”

The project manager reiterated that plans are underway to setup a high-tech cooling facilities on a 2500m2 portion of land on the green scheme. He added that pickers will undergo training on how to pick the blueberries and methods of harvesting. The Blueberries will be packaged locally, and they are preserved either by freezing or parching.

The project makes use of the Dripper line as the method of irrigation. It also has beehives installed in the plantation to boost pollination and have more fruits yield.

Blueberries are an excellent source of vitamin C and soluble fibre which aids digestion, making it an ideal health product. It also reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease, improves vision and nurtures a glowing skin.

It is estimated that 150 tons of blueberries would be harvested between July and October 2020.