Fall Creek's Wian Mouton: "South Africa May Become a New Development Pole for the Global Blueberry Industry"
A new global pole
The specialist assured that a great development and growth of the industry is projected because there are many producers of citrus agriculture and other fruit trees who are looking at the possibility of diversifying, "and blueberries are the preferred alternative for them", for which projected that the blueberry in South Africa will continue to expand to limits that are difficult to predict with exactitude, but that in 2021 it will already reach 25.000 tons.
"South Africa can become a new development pole for the global blueberry industry, as Latin America has been in recent years," says Wian Mouton.
- What is the main characteristic of the South African fruit?
The South African blueberry grower focuses on producing high-quality fruit. Quality is primarily measured in terms of flavor, level of maturity and firmness, but it is equally important to ensure that the fruit is free from pests and diseases that can have a negative impact on postharvest quality. Fruit produced in South Africa travels for 18 days or more to destinations in Europe, the UK, Middle Eastern markets and elsewhere. It is vitally important that growers handle fruit correctly after harvest, through packing facilities and cold rooms, to ensure an optimal shelf life.
- What are the main problems faced during cultivation in South Africa?
Covid-19 brought new challenges to industry and agriculture in general. Blueberry growers are used to working with a large workforce to help harvest all the berries and with so many people working in close proximity the management teams of these farms had to come up with innovative ideas to harvest the fruit, while at the same time minimize the risk to the health of your people.
At the level of challenges, Mouton places access to new and improved genetics for blueberry growers in South Africa. “I am confident that Fall Creek South Africa will play a role in addressing this challenge with our focus on breeding and introducing new varieties for South Africa. Varieties such as AtlasBlue® 'FCM12-045' and BiancaBlue® 'FCM12-087' are varieties with firmness and aromatic flavors, which enhance the consumer's eating experience ”, he highlights.
Genetics and infrastructure
In his reflection, Wian Mouton stops at the large amount of information that new consumers have, which has raised their levels of demand for a higher quality on blueberries. “We believe that improved genetics is the way to address these consumer demands as a producer and that is why Fall Creek is focused on introducing improved genetics for all cold levels. For the professional grower in South Africa and other parts of South Africa ”.
Another challenge that stands out is that of infrastructure, since there are many small farmers, with orchards of 10 hectares or less, which does not justify investments to implement the latest technologies and management facilities, or modern cooling infrastructure. Pallets and containers fill slowly, which in turn creates challenges for logistics teams.
"On the positive side, this scenario creates an opportunity for independent businesses that wish to establish themselves and provide packaging and cooling services for producers that are very close to each other," he says.
The full article can be found in the free specialized magazine BlueMagazine. Login to https://www.revistabluemagazine.com/publicaciones/edicion-2021/ and do not miss the news of the blueberry industry.
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