Blueberry market bursting with opportunities for Zimbabwe


Taking a look at one of our exciting agricultural sectors

Blueberries, one of Zimbabwe’s newer horticultural crops, have emerged as one of our best-performing export crops in the last five years.

This success story should come as no surprise. Before the Zimbabwean Government’s Land Reform Program, Zimbabwe had a rich and diverse agricultural basket and the country was an exporter of cut stem flowers (roses, proteas, chrysanthemums and more), an exporter of a wide range of fruit (including mangoes) and vegetables (such as sugar snap peas).

Post-2000, with the changing landscape of Zimbabwean agriculture, the sector has been rebuilding itself to once again reestablish its position as a player in the global market. The potential for further growth in this sector should not be underestimated.

At the end of 2023, a report published by stated that 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 2,300 tons and exceeded 5,000 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). (source: EastFruit)

Blueberry hectarage

In 2022, 3,500 tons of blueberries were harvested from land under 500 hectares. Last year, blueberry output was approximately 5,500 tons planted on 570 hectares. There were, however, no significant new blueberry plantings in 2023 as growers recovered from a tough 2022 and only an additional 100ha is anticipated in 2024. (source: HDC)


Export markets include South Africa, Russia, the UK, the EU, the Middle East and the Far East. If market access to China and India is secured, an expansion to 1,500 hectares will result in increased production of 30,000 tons, but this will depend on an improvement in our policy environment, according to the Horticulture Development Council (HDC).

Due to commercial production across the globe, blueberries are now available year-round but our season begins well ahead of our southern hemisphere competitors, South Africa included, giving us a strategic market advantage.

According to, “The Zimbabwean blueberry export season commenced in mid-April, with the first products being shipped to South Africa where blueberry prices remain favourable. ‘The market has to be good to make it worthwhile for Zimbabwean growers,’ says Rossouw Lambrechts, blueberry account manager at Delecta Fruit, which begins its blueberry campaign (much like its stone fruit campaign) with Zimbabwean fruit.

Most farms, located north of Harare (Mashonaland East, West and Central), pack blueberries from April until September, a period that avoids the highly competitive South African and Peruvian export seasons.

The peak period for Zimbabwean blueberries is from the end of June through July when they are one of the few major suppliers globally, a market position on which Zimbabwean growers have effectively capitalized, Lambrechts observes.” (

The downstream industries feeding off this sector have, in turn, mushroomed; chemical houses, irrigation equipment dealers, shade cloth providers, freight handling and providers, specialised equipment manufacturers and importers, cold chain companies and other inputs providers have all flourished on the back of this sector’s resurgence.

As Zimbabwe is landlocked, freight and logistics are major factors when it comes to marketing the produce.

“Known for their high quality, Zimbabwean fruit are primarily flown out from Harare or Johannesburg. An increasing portion is also shipped to the UK or EU by sea via Cape Town harbour. Currently, with Morocco and Spain still at the height of their blueberry seasons, it makes sense for Zimbabwean growers to supply their blueberries to Delecta in South Africa. Here, they are sold to a diverse range of clients and prices are around 10% higher than in the same period last year. (

Zimbabwe is blessed with favourable climatic conditions and abundant labour. As it is a high dollar investment per hectare crop, everything is done to ensure return on investment when it comes to productivity and quality with optimal harvest conditions. The fruit is grown under greenhouses or in open fields.

Crop genetics are imported from North America, South America and Australia.

Production challenges

According to the HDC, despite the industry’s rapid growth, several threats challenge the growth of this industry if not addressed. Growth remains limited due to a lack of long-term financing, a result of the absence of policy certainty. Where finance is available, interest rates are too high and tenure is too short. Progress in designating the sector a Special Economic Zone is slow and requires urgent attention.

Additionally, the 25 per cent export retention reduces profitability. Progress in completing the protocols for market access to China and India is slow, and Government intervention is required. Unless policy issues are resolved, this promising industry risks stagnation and Zimbabwe will miss out on a strong opportunity to position itself as a leader on the global stage.

* The Horticultural Development Council (HDC) is a non-profit, membership-driven organisation in our export horticultural industry. It plays a vital role in improving horticultural business efficiency and competitiveness in Zimbabwe. The HDC was set up in 2019 at the behest of the Zimbabwe Government’s Ministry of Agriculture, Water, Fisheries, Land and Rural Development, to sustainably develop the competitiveness of the sector.


One of the few fruits native to North America, blueberries are small blue or purple fruits that grow above ground on bushes.
While there are many different types of blueberries across the world, the most common variety (the one you're likely to find on supermarket shelves) is the highbush blueberry. This is a flowering bush that grows small white flowers that bloom into hard green berries, and those, when ripened, become blueberries.


  1. Joseph Kufakunesu on June 25, 2024 at 6:09 pm

    Very educative and encouraging article, thank you. I am a Zimbabwean based in the US and would like to look for markets to supply Zim agricultural produce especially the organic produce. How do I go about looking for markets

    • Staff Writer on June 30, 2024 at 4:03 am

      Thank you for your kind words! I’m glad you found the article educative and encouraging. It’s fantastic to hear that you’re interested in supplying Zimbabwean agricultural produce, particularly organic produce, to new markets. Here are some steps to help you get started:

      Market Research:

      Identify Target Markets: Look for countries or regions with a high demand for organic produce. The US, EU, and parts of Asia often have growing markets for organic food.
      Understand Market Preferences: Research what types of organic produce are in demand in your target markets. This will help you tailor your offerings.

      Regulations and Certifications:

      Certifications: Ensure your produce meets the organic certification standards required by your target markets. For instance, USDA Organic for the United States or EU Organic Certification for European markets.
      Export Regulations: Familiarize yourself with the export regulations both in Zimbabwe and the importing country.

      Networking and Partnerships:

      Trade Shows and Expos: Participate in international agricultural and organic food trade shows. These events are great for networking and finding potential buyers.
      Business Directories and Platforms: Utilize platforms like Alibaba, ExportHub, and TradeKey to list your products and connect with international buyers.

      Distribution Channels:

      Direct Selling: Approach wholesale markets, retailers, and organic food stores in your target markets directly.
      Online Marketplaces: Consider selling through e-commerce platforms like Amazon, eBay, or even specialized organic food websites.

      Marketing and Branding:

      Create a Brand: Build a strong brand around your organic produce that highlights its Zimbabwean origin and organic nature.
      Digital Marketing: Use social media, blogs, and influencer partnerships to promote your produce and reach a wider audience.

      Government and Trade Organizations:

      Zimbabwean Trade Organizations: Contact ZimTrade or other relevant trade bodies in Zimbabwe for support and resources on exporting.
      US Trade Organizations: Reach out to organizations like the Organic Trade Association (OTA) in the US for guidance and networking opportunities.

      Logistics and Supply Chain:

      Reliable Shipping: Find reliable logistics partners who can handle the transportation of perishable goods.
      Cold Chain Management: Ensure you have the necessary cold chain infrastructure to maintain the quality and freshness of your produce during transit.

      By following these steps, you can effectively look for and establish new markets for our Zimbabwean organic produce. Good luck with your venture!

  2. Dignity Sibanda on June 26, 2024 at 4:53 pm

    Where do l get blueberry seedlings in Zimbabwe

    • Staff Writer on June 30, 2024 at 4:09 am

      Thanks for your interest. I would say that The Horticultural Development Council would be a great resource for information about starting a blueberry crop.

  3. William Portbury on June 26, 2024 at 8:30 pm

    Are you selling to people in byo and where are you located

    • Staff Writer on June 30, 2024 at 4:06 am

      Thanks for your interest. We are an online publication so we aren’t selling. I would suggest getting hold of The Horticultural
      Development Council for more information about suppliers in your area.

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