The hard-hitting report from South Africa
Wian Mouton, Fall Creek Business Manager for South Africa, developed a strong presentation of the current status of blueberry cultivation in the various localities of South Africa and expanded on the reality of blueberry in neighboring or adjacent countries in the region. In his talk, he presented figures and elements that suggest that this African area could become a new development pole for the global blueberry industry, as Latin America has been in the last decade.
Fast growth timeline
The expert in his presentation provided dozens of data and information on a country that produced 15.000 tons last season, growing by more than 40% compared to the previous season and maintaining a stable upward trend in recent years, and that, according to data, it is projected to continue in the coming seasons.
Since 1992, when the first fruit export was made to Zambia, for a value of 9 thousand rand (USD 520 approx), it jumped to 5 million rand (USD 288 thousand approx) in exports in 2001, and then it is entered in the virtuous period for the South African blueberry industry, exporting 1,1 trillion rand (USD 59 million approx) in 2019, which implies that it has not only grown in planted area, production, or efficiency, but also achieving important economic returns.
Genetics and investments for the area
In his talk "South African market conditions and the impacts of COVID-19", given in the context of International Blueberry Month, he made a detailed report on all aspects of the industry. According to his information, in 2000 the first genetics from Florida were introduced in the country, in collaboration with Fall Creek, and now this company already has a nursery near the Western Cape to deliver plants to all the countries of the southern Africa and also to research and produce more genetics for the industry.
Mouton relates that the countries that are producing blueberries in the south of the African continent are Namibia, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Kenya, there are also projects in Botswana, Angola, Mozambique and others that have the potential to produce. There are many investors interested in implementing blueberry growing projects and they are investigating the opportunities in these countries.
The area in general has a very good available workforce and they are countries in which the agricultural industry has been the backbone of their economies, so there are very interesting opportunities to explore because they have adequate infrastructure for production and transfer of the product from the field to the marketing or distribution centers.
In the country, plantations have spread from the Cape, where most of the plantations are found (58%), and which is an area with low cold requirements, to medium-requirement provinces and other areas at higher altitudes, of mountain, suitable for varieties of high requirement of cold. The northern part of the country, in the Limpopo province, which produces 13% of the total, is characterized as very good for producing varieties with low cold requirements. The country also has zones with zero cold requirements, so the conditions for growing blueberries in South Africa are very varied.
The specialist ensures that the future is projected as one of great development and the growth of the industry will be a relevant point. "There are many producers in the agriculture of citrus and other fruit trees who are looking at the possibility of diversifying, and blueberries are a very good alternative for this, to diversify and to reduce their risks," explains Wian Mouton.
Mouton, in addition to sharing the most relevant data on costs, production, volumes, returns and projections, reiterates the advantage of weather conditions and the great availability of operating infrastructure, so that projects and investments do not have to start from scratch, This makes it possible to project that the blueberry in South Africa will continue to expand to limits that are difficult to predict with accuracy, but that by 2021 it will already reach 25.000 tons.
As the International Blueberry Month program progresses, the sessions become more massive and this Tuesday 18 more than 900 participants from 17 countries connected.
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