EastFruit, an online information and analytics platform for the horticulture business, reports that Zimbabwe is experiencing an investment boom in blueberry farming due to a surge in investments
According to EastFruit, a surge in blueberry farming investment in Zimbabwe is primarily driven by South African investors who are either diversifying their portfolios or entirely relocating their operations to Zimbabwe due to “extremely favourable” climatic conditions, abundant access to high-quality irrigation water and affordable labour costs.
In addition, there has been an increase in investments from other countries into development of new blueberry plantations in Zimbabwe.
Since blueberry production in Zimbabwe is developed mainly by investors who already have experience in growing the crop in similar climatic conditions, the productivity of the plantations and the quality of the products are quite high.
“These companies already have established blueberry sales channels, which allows them to do the same with berries grown in Zimbabwe,” says EastFruit.
“As a result, Zimbabwe’s blueberry exports are currently growing faster than any other country in the world.”
On average over the past five years, Zimbabwe has increased blueberry exports by 63 percent each year or by 1 200 tones.
In 2022, exports grew by 85 percent or 2 300 tonnes and exceeded 5 000, which allowed the country to enter the top 15 countries in blueberry exports and overtake Serbia in volume,” says Andrij Yarmak, economist at the investment department of the Food and Agriculture Ministry. UN organizations (FAO).
EastFruit experts expect that in 2023, blueberry exports from Zimbabwe could grow by another 30-40 percent and reach 6,5 to 7 000 tonnes.
“Considering the high price level for blueberries due to the poor harvest of this berry in Peru, the country can make good money from exporting blueberries in the new season,” says EastFruit.
Significant part of blueberries from Zimbabwe are exported to South Africa, apparently for further re-exports. The country also directly exports fresh blueberries to the UK, EU and Middle East countries, as well as to Russia.
By the way, Georgia is also among the leaders in the growth rate of blueberries in the world, with an average annual increase in exports of 50 percent.
In 2023, blueberry exports from Georgia increased 2,5 times and reached 3 400 tonnes. True, obviously, some of these blueberries were grown in Ukraine and re-exported by traders from Georgia to the Russian market.
“Ukraine itself, despite its leading positions in the world in terms of the rate of blueberry area increase, is somewhat behind Georgia in terms of the growth rate of exports. However, in 2023, the blueberry exports from Ukraine increased sharply, which is partly due to a decrease in the local blueberry market size due to the outflow of population as a result of Russian military aggression,” says EastFruit.