MASHARE – The prolonged global lockdowns as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic has had a massive impact on the multi-million-dollar blueberries project at Mashare in Kavango East.
Procurement of equipment from overseas for specialist infrastructure at the project has hit a snag, as many countries have secured their borders to curb the spread of coronavirus.
The project is run by a local company Konigstein Capital, which has a 25-year lease agreement to operate from the Mashare irrigation scheme. But project director Albert Basson said that from a production perspective, the Covid-19 lockdown impact has been limited, as water, chemicals and fertilisers are readily available. “However operationally, the prolonged Covid-19 lockdown has created many backlogs and challenges,” he said.
“Being able to get specialist infrastructure installed and getting certain critical services like external audits completed have really been a challenge and we have had to make [other] plans. We have a good team and were able to find solutions to most of those challenges.”
Basson added that there is greater demand for the blueberries in the export market. “However we expect that with cancelled flights across the world, logistics will be a challenge for the season. We will continue to monitor the situation and are making necessary arrangements to make sure our products will be exported,” he noted.
“We remain confident that despite the challenges we will be able to successfully harvest and export the blueberries.”
Mashare will start with the harvesting of blueberries by the end of this month and continue for another three months.
The blueberries will also be sold locally under the brand ‘Namib Blue’.
“We expect to harvest between 160 to 180 tonnes and obviously that amount won’t be able to be sold in Namibia because the market here is very small. The main focus is to export the produce and this will allow us to earn foreign currency for the country and create many jobs,” Basson said.
“So we are confident that we will achieve the goals the we have set out for ourselves to achieve. The export market has strict health and safety standards. We adhere to and implement very strict health and safety measures.”