MASHARE – A local company Konigstein Capital which has a 25-year lease agreement to operate from the Mashare Irrigation Scheme in Kavango East, has set its sights on growing up to 150 hectares of blueberries for the international market.
The project, regarded as Namibia’s first ever commercial berries plantation, is situated between Mashare and Mupapama villages in the Mashare constituency.
The Government Institutions Pension Fund (GIPF) invested N$90 million into the blueberries production project, while another N$27.5 million has been invested in the Mashare irrigation project, which produces a variety of crops, including maize, sorghum, wheat and potatoes, among others. “Blueberries have a high international demand and we will export to secured European markets. It will create a lot of economic stimulations locally in a form of earnings but also in a form of job creation.
It is an impactful fruit which will bring in good earnings,” said Albert Basson, the director of the project. “With the blueberries, we started with the groundwork in July last year, we are still busy with the entire set up of the structure.
The first plants were imported from Spain in November, they are Mexican variety and we have three varieties here, the blue one is Jupiter, the green is Bianca and the red one is Atlas.” Basson informed the GIPF management that they will start harvesting this year in June and the berries will mostly be exported.
“We don’t have enough people eating blueberries in Namibia that can finish all this, so you will definitely see our product on the shelves but not so much, we want to tap into the international market,” he said.
“GIPF is willing to support us in this initiative by putting capital at risk because of the greater vision. And so far we have ticked all the boxes, with the support from the ministry of agriculture to help us see this grand vision implemented and hopefully we can replicate this in this area because we have an incredible asset here.” GIPF CEO David Nuyoma said they initially invested N$27.5 million into the Mashare project before topping it up with another N$90 million.
“We are happy to contribute to the national agenda in different ways, first food self-sufficiency as you heard they produce maize, wheat and then we added this berries project in order to make this project look feasible from a return perspective,” Nuyoma noted.
“We said in terms of yielding the return let’s issue a higher investment than other projects on the farm and we are also happy this project is also in a rural area to help reduce urbanisation of people from flocking to urban areas as there are employment opportunities here and it gives us that scope of contributing to the national agenda.” The Mashare project currently employs 50 permanent employees and between 100 to 300 casual workers depending on the work avaialbe.