Afriberry ZA, operated from Rietfontein farm in the fertile Kwena valley near Lydenburg in Mpumalanga, was born from the desire to address historical injustices through a partnership between South Africans who are passionate about farming. This partnership will give people from different backgrounds the opportunity to achieve success in high value export farming. After evaluating various agri-business ventures, one stood out, Blue Drop Berries (Pty) Ltd. Through PALS their existing blue- and blackberry business was made available for a potential partnership scaling the business to the next level.
Afriberry ZA plans to extend their current 10 ha of blue- and 2 ha of blackberries to 25 ha and 5 ha respectively. The project is currently in its motivational stage, awaiting approval of financing in terms of blended finance with the IDC. The project will be 60% black owned through Black Farmers Co (Pty) Ltd which shares are in turn held by the Black Workers Trust and black farmers, Rossouw Nkosi and Peter Mashala. They are all banding together to make it happen.
The South African industry is ideally positioned to produce blueberries for the export market, generating foreign revenue and contributing to job security to more and eventually more people. South Africa is still a small blueberry player globally, with only 5% of the total southern hemisphere production, so far. But watch this space. Blackberries are up and coming and niche, fetching even higher prices. Both are looking good in Mpumalanga. The mild sub-tropical climate is ideal for berry production with very high water quality used in an automated open field hydroponic system.
The region has ample labour available to utilise as seasonal workers and alleviate rural poverty. Approximately 200 seasonal and 20 permanent employment opportunities will be created initially, mostly for females, which will have an enormous impact on the local community’s distress. The project will be profitable in as little as two years.
Yes, ladies and gentlemen we bring you … PALS and the Mpumalanga berries! If this sounds like a band, let’s rock ’n roll, Chuck! And find your thrill, on blueberry hill …