Zimbabwe’s Blueberry Boom: How the African Nation Became a Top Exporter

How the African nation became a top exporter of the healthy and tasty berries

by Motoni Olodun

Zimbabwe, a country that is better known for its record-breaking hyperinflation and poverty, has surprisingly emerged as a global leader in blueberry export growth. According to EastFruit, a platform that provides information and analysis on the fruit and vegetable markets of Eastern Europe and Central Asia, Zimbabwe has increased its blueberry exports by an average of 63% annually in the past five years, reaching over 5,000 tonnes in 2022. This remarkable achievement has placed Zimbabwe among the top 15 blueberry exporting countries in the world, surpassing Serbia in volume.

The main drivers behind Zimbabwe’s blueberry boom are the investors from neighbouring South Africa, who have seen the potential of the country’s favourable climatic conditions, abundant water resources, and cheap labour. These investors have established new blueberry plantations in Zimbabwe, mostly using high-tech irrigation systems and modern varieties that ensure high productivity and quality. They have also leveraged their existing blueberry sales channels in Europe, the Middle East, and Russia, where the demand for healthy and tasty berries is growing.

Zimbabwe’s blueberry industry is not only generating foreign currency and creating employment but also contributing to the country’s food security and nutrition. Blueberries are rich in antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals, and have been linked to various health benefits, such as improving brain function, cardiovascular health, and immunity. The local consumption of blueberries is also increasing, as more people become aware of their nutritional value and availability.

However, Zimbabwe’s blueberry sector is not without challenges. The country still faces political and economic instability, which affects the business environment and access to finance. Blueberry growers also have to deal with pests and diseases, such as fruit flies and anthracnose, as well as the effects of climate change, such as droughts and floods. Moreover, the competition from other blueberry-producing countries, especially Peru, which has become the world’s largest exporter, is intensifying.

Despite these difficulties, Zimbabwe’s blueberry sector is optimistic about the future. The growers are planning to expand their production area and diversify their markets, especially in Asia, where blueberry consumption is expected to rise. They are also investing in research and development, as well as in social and environmental sustainability, to ensure the long-term viability and profitability of their business. Zimbabwe’s blueberry sector is proving that with the right investment, technology, and market access, the country can overcome its challenges and achieve its potential.

Source: EastFruit


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