ZIMBABWE – Blueberry producers in Zimbabwe are working towards expanding their produce export markets to China as demand continues to surge.
Currently, these locally produced berries are exported to clients in the European Union and the UK.
According to their local media, the demand for the Zimbabwean blueberry is growing around the world due to their size taste, and quality.
The industry is, thus, on an impressive upward trend due to its growing demand, production, and earnings.
However, according to Alistair Campbell of Zimbabwe Berry Growers Association, there is still room for improvement especially in expanding the current 670 hectares under production.
“We just don’t have enough hectares,” said Campell. “We need to work towards scaling the production area to a target of between 1500-4000 hectares.”
In his view, that scale will enable the Zimbabwean markets to penetrate new markets including China.
“Based on our recent visits we saw that there is a huge demand for our blueberries in China,” explained Clarence Mwale, CEO of Fairmark. “Our other competitors like Peru are just too far and this grants us another unique competitive advantage.”
According to him, Zimbabwe only needs to ensure compliance with the private and regulatory requirements for blueberry markets.
“We are very keen on understanding what the China market demands in this area and we will do whatever it takes to ensure we meet them,” said Mwale.
Zimbabwe has recently commenced Citrus exports to China, with blueberries, it has an added advantage.
Zimbabwean blueberries come into season about two months ahead of other producers in the Southern Hemisphere which means farmers there have a window during which there is no other global supply to compete with.
While this aspect has raised interest in investing in the crop, the economic aspect of the fruit’s production is a hindrance to the sector.
“Finding enough patient capital at the right price is what we need because blueberry cultivation is very expensive to set up,” added Campbell.
According to the Berry Growers Association, funding in the region of USD 100 million with a five-to-seven-year tenure is required to expand production to 1500 hectares by 2025.
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