Fresh Produce at your doorstep

By Musa Carter
November 2012
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The farm is situated 10km out of Okahandja on the way to Hochfeld, Berry Buzz has entered the horticulture market as one of Namibia’s own fresh producers.

The business grows the finest, hard-to find produce using traditional and modern methods of pollination and fertilization to ensure high yields, unlike the modern genetically modified production methods currently being used in some first world countries(GMOs). These practices fortunately are not practiced in Namibia.

Berry Buzz’s primary gist is to get produce straight from the field onto your dining table in the shortest possible time.

It has an email service from which weekly updates of available produce are forwarded to Windhoek clients and surrounding areas so that they can order at the click of a button.

“We get them directly from the field, straight to your dining table,” beams the brains behind the business venture, Allan le Hané.

The project started about four years as a backyard project in Windhoek where Allan cultivated exotic produce for personal consumption.

Later, he decided to distribute his surplus to family and friends at no cost. But first, he would email them what he had to offer after which they would choose in order of preference.

“My wife, who is of Filipino descent, inspired and encouraged me to cultivate exotic produce because she enjoys a variety of fresh produce that are not available on the Namibian market, which I took a liking to,”relates Allan.

As word spread of his exotic produce, the email order system became popular and more people started requesting to be added onto the list.

As his entrepreneurial side kicked in, he decided to register Berry Buzz as a commercial company last year.

The exotic produce Berry Buzz offers is cultivated on a hectare of land. They include a variety of Asian vegetables like aubergine, chinese spoon cabbage, okra, , lemon grass, marrows and several types of beans. As well as hard find produce such as artichoke, cassava, sorrel and rhubarb.

Berry Buzz also grows a selection of herbs such as rosemary, thyme, mint, salvia, variety of parsley and others.

People often ask what is in a name. Well, in this instance, Berry Buzz literary allows nature to take its course as Allan keeps bees to pollinate the flowers of the produce, hence the ‘buzz’ and the berry part is due to its specialized focus of growing variety of berries.

When in season, the berry harvest is about 300kg a week. With such limited supply, Berry Buzz only supplies a few of its best customers, individuals and restaurant such as Gatheman without advertising.

“We have since doubled the land for the berries so we can meet demand in Namibia and we will not include berries on the email list until our bumper harvest expected in the next two years or earlier. Although growing berries is our main focus of the enterprise, the plants take a long time to bear fruit profitably .We will continue with the vegetables whilst we wait for the berries and other fruit trees to start bearing fruits,” states Allan.

Berry Buzz employs seven people. It has a list of over 500 clients. Out of that list, Berry Buzz delivers roughly to 150 clients weekly on a rotational basis since most people do not buy vegetables every week. This may be attributed to the fact that we distribute generous portions of the freshest produce, resulting in it lasting longer in the common household. Another contributing factor is each week we offer a different selection of produce catering for a different set of clients.

What sets Berry Buzz apart from other companies is that its produce is fresh and its service is prompt. Produce is harvested every Sunday while Mondays to Thursdays are for delivery.

Produce that Berry Buzz does not grow it sources from personally selected local farmers. The produce must adhere to Berry Buzz quality standard. However many farmers in Namibia, realizing the need to have a high yield to supply in the local demand, do not produce organically yet still are able to deliver a superiorly fresh product that we are proud to promote as long as we are satisfied that production methods adhere to all the socially acceptable standards required as well as meet with our strict selection criteria for quality. We pay special attention to the use of artificial fertilisers and insecticides.

“The aim is to limit the clients eventually per distribution point so that we do not loose our field-to-table gist as our produce is delivered on a timely basis and this differentiates us from our competitors. “explains Allan. Although it limits its clientele-base in order to ensure fresh and timely orders, BerryBuzz is looking into franchising in order to allow other Namibians to enjoy the same experience whilst striving to create employment by growing the industry.

The company offers a choice of twopackages - N$50 for pack for two and afamily pack that goes for N$100. Clients are given a selection of approximately 20 items to choose from with average of seven choices per order. The pack is prepared and delivered as soon as possible after ordering to preserve the freshness, which is a BerryBuzz signature trend.

Namibia’s arid climate hinders the production of exotic fruits and vegetables but Berry Buzz counters this situation with its specialised irrigation methods that allow for better yields.

The company uses bio-dynamic seasonal production methods. This method of organic farming emphasises the holistic development and inter-relationship of soil, plants and animals as a self-sustaining system with the planting and planning based on a system called permaculture.

Berry Buzz has found a niche in the market - exotic produce combined with locally sourced products. These products includes not only fresh produce but different locally produced cheeses, jams, jellies and whatever we feel is appropriate for a fresh produce and confectionary market. In the process we promote those home made products in an attempt to support local production. Available produce can also be viewed from their website www.berrybuzznam.com. PF