ZIMBABWE – Zimbabwe has emerged as a global leader in the growth rate of its blueberry exports despite the country’s recurrent hyperinflation rates and poverty according to a recent study.
“This success story, while it may be perceived as surprising, is nothing short of a natural outcome for a country that was once very rich and had a highly developed agriculture,” outlined the EastFruit report.
According to the study, this exponential growth can well be attributed to the current surge in investment in blueberry farming in Zimbabwe.
For instance, new plantations have been established mainly by investors from neighboring South Africa, who seek to diversify and shift production to this country given their favorable climatic conditions, availability of high-quality water for irrigation, and cheap labor.
Moreover, there has also been an increase in investments from other countries in the development of new blueberry plantations in Zimbabwe.
“Since most of the investors already have experience in growing blueberries within similar climatic conditions, the productivity of the plantations and the quality of the products have spiked,” reads the report.
Additionally, these companies already have established blueberry sales channels, which allows them to do the same with berries grown in Zimbabwe.
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% each year or by 1,200 tones. In 2022, exports grew by 85% or 2.3 thousand tons and exceeded 5 thousand tons, which allowed the country to enter the top 15 countries in blueberry exports and overtake Serbia in volume,” says Andrij Yarmak, an economist at the investment department of the Food and Agriculture Ministry. UN organizations (FAO).
Experts forecast that in 2023, blueberry exports from Zimbabwe could grow by another 30-40% and reach 6.5-7.0 thousand tons.
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.
A 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.
Other global leaders in regard to blueberry export rates include Georgia with an average annual increase in exports of 50%.
In 2023, blueberry exports from Georgia increased 2.5 times and reached 3.4 thousand tons. To achieve this some of these blueberries were grown in Ukraine and re-exported by traders from Georgia to the Russian market.
Ukraine itself, despite its leading position in the world in terms of the rate of blueberry cultivation area increase, is somewhat behind Georgia in terms of the growth rate of exports.
However, in 2023, blueberry exports from Ukraine increased sharply, which is partly due to a decrease in the local blueberry market size due to the outflow of the population as a result of Russian military aggression.
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