Staff Writer

The Government Institutions Pension Fund (GIPF) has announced the first large-scale Namibian commercial blueberry harvest, produced by the Mashare Berries project, which forms part of the Spitz Capital Fund anchored in the GIPF unlisted investment programme.

The fund has invested N$90 million into the blueberry production project that is situated 50km east of Rundu on the banks of the Kavango River. This aims to harvest an estimated 150 tons of blueberries between July and October 2020.

In a statement, the GIPF announced that the blueberry project supports its investment strategy of selecting high value crops for export to earn foreign currency. The bulk of the harvest is for export, with five percent reserved for local consumption.

“GIPF is determined to fund agribusiness to achieve food security; import substitution and export gains of earning foreign currency, to help bolster national reserves. It is against this background that the Fund took a conscious and calculated decision to invest in agribusiness such as Mashare, to deliver returns for our members, while at the same time creating employment and empowering our rural communities. Mashare also produces cash crops such as maize, wheat, potatoes.” said Sara Mezui-Engo; Manager: Alternative Investments, assing that to date, 500kg’s of blueberries are being sold in Checkers shops nation-wide.

Blueberries have several health benefits such as; being an excellent source of vitamin C, antioxidants, lower in calories and high in soluble fibre, which aids digestion.

They also reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases, improves vision and leads to healthier skin.

“Given the immune boosting properties that blueberries provide, it goes without saying that they should be a part of one’s daily dietary consumption during the COVID-19 pandemic. Go out there and buy local produce,” said Mezui-Engo.

The GIPF has also invested an additional N$27.5 million in the Mashare irrigation project, which produces a variety of crops, including maize, sorghum, wheat and potatoes, among others.

Touted as Namibia’s first ever commercial blueberry plantation, the project which Konigstein Capital operates through a 25-year lease agreement on the irrigation scheme is situated between Mashare and Mupapama villages.

The Mashare project currently employs 50 permanent employees and occasionally takes on casual workers.