KOSOVO – According to a recent report by International Blueberry Organization (IBO), Kosovo’s blueberry industry has seen consistent and notable growth since its start in 2012 thanks to global demand.

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What began as a modest endeavor with 10 hectares of planted blueberries has now expanded to cover 150 hectares, yielding around 700 tons annually.

The country’s unique agro-climatic conditions play a significant role in producing high-quality blueberries that reach markets up to 20 days earlier than competitors in Eastern and Central Europe.

Blueberry farming has proven profitable in Kosovo, offering a high return on investment compared to other agricultural crops.

Low production costs and access to premium markets contribute to the industry’s success. The growing domestic and international demand for blueberries continues to boost Kosovo’s agricultural sector.

“The 2023 blueberry season was very successful in terms of production, with a 15% increase compared to 2022,” said Kujtim Lepaja, Executive Director of the National Berry Association of Kosovo.

“Despite climate changes and pricing challenges, we managed to achieve significant growth in volume.”

Kosovo’s blueberry production is centered in two regions, Peja and Podujeva. Peja specializes in early cultivars, while Podujeva focuses on late ones.

These regions account for about half of Kosovo’s blueberry orchards. The main varieties grown include DUKE, Liberty, and Aurora, among others. Nearly all production (99.5%) takes place in open fields, with just a small portion in greenhouses.

Despite potential labor challenges following the liberalization of visa rules in January 2024, the industry is expected to maintain its workforce.

Ample water sources from rivers, streams, and underground reservoirs support blueberry cultivation. The country’s moderate continental climate ensures a consistent water supply throughout the year.

“The orchards in Kosovo are modern, with new areas planted with cultivars demanded by the European market,” Kujtim said.

“Cultivation technology aligns with Dutch practices, including advanced planting methods, pest management, anti-hail systems, smart irrigation, and data management platforms. These help improve productivity, quality, and sustainability.”

Exporting blueberries to Europe presents both opportunities and challenges for Kosovo. The first two weeks of June allow the country to sell at premium prices of 5 to 6 euros per kilogram.

However, as other European countries enter their production seasons, export prices drop to below 3 euros per kilogram.

Kosovo’s efforts to promote blueberry consumption include educational campaigns and events like Berry Week. The country has also seen a significant rise in domestic demand.

These initiatives, combined with favorable climatic conditions, strong demand from neighboring countries, and support from the Ministry of Agriculture, bode well for the future of Kosovo’s blueberry industry.

As the industry continues its journey, it remains set on a path of growth and prosperity, reinforced by international appeal and a strong local market.

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