The South African industry closes the season by increasing its exports and exceeding its economic returns
South Africa exported 12,282 tonnes of blueberries in the season that just ended, broken down into volumes shipped to the UK (46,2%), Europe (46,10%), the Middle East (2,57%), the Far East (4,90) %) and Africa (0,02%). These volumes confirm that the South African industry is one of those that has experienced one of the fastest growth in the region, both in the number of hectares planted and in the values obtained from its production, which is in line with the strategic policy line designed by that country. to privilege and support high value, export, and labor-intensive crops. These exports grew from R 54 billion (approx USD 2018 million) in 81 to more than R XNUMX billion (approx USD XNUMX million).
New projects and more plantations
As a frame of reference, the South African industry closes the season by increasing its blueberry exports and exceeding its economic returns.
This increase in exports, which has meant growth of more than 1000% in the last decade and 50% in the last two years, is due to the fact that more companies and producers are joining the crop. With more hectares planted, with more technology and better knowledge, which is reflected in this increase in the industry and in the use of higher employment rates, which directly contributes to the development of the nation. By 2023, it is projected to have 4700 hectares planted.
The South African blueberry industry started in the Lydenburg district of Mpumalanga during the 1970s, and in 1987 blueberry cultivation reached the Western Cape. The first recorded batch of blueberries exported from South Africa was in 1992, which was valued at 9780 rand (approx USD 530) and shipped to Zambia. In 2001 this value reached five million rand (USD 270 thousand approx.) And in 2018 blueberry exports surpassed the one billion rand mark for the first time, soaring to date over one thousand five hundred million rand.
In terms of economic growth, the blueberry industry has significantly outperformed other fruit industries, increasing its value exponentially for a decade, doubling its growth as an industry in recent years and doubling its economic income in the last year of production and exports. Within the family of berries cultivated in South Africa, blueberry production is the largest, occupying about 74% of the entire planted area. The Western Cape has the highest proportion of blueberry hectares at 60%, followed by Limpopo (15%), Northwest (10%) and Gauteng (8%). According to SABPA executive Elzette Schutte, the projections for the South African industry by 2023 are to reach a production of 50.000 tons, which would mean reaching 35.000 tons in exports, placing the South African industry in the first five blueberry exporting countries in the world.
Most blueberry farms are planted under shade mesh structures (43%) or outdoors (40%), compared to 17% under plastic cover, however these percentages are rapidly changing with new investments and new project implementations, since there is a strong drive towards planting under plastic mesh and covers to guarantee high quality fresh products, with cutting-edge technologies to ensure efficient water management, pest and disease control, and to protect farms from sunburn, wind, hail and bird damage.
In this perspective of implementation and use of new technologies, many producers are converting their management and adopting cultivation techniques in bags or containers with substrate, achieving better control and higher plant density, in addition to acquiring newer varieties, achieving yields of above 10 tons per hectare, which is the current average production in the area.
This phenomenon of growth and good practices, developed in very different geographies and climates, can be seen directly on September 10 next, sharing experiences with the direct protagonists, when the XXI International Blueberry Seminar is held in Morocco at the Hyatt Regency from Casablanca.
To purchase your tickets go to the following link:
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