Abu Dhabi-based producer expands harvest season to boost fresh local supply
Elite Agro (EAG), a leading UAE producer and distributor of fresh produce, has doubled the production area of its blueberries, expanding the harvest season this year and adding new varieties of the popular superfood.
Elite Agro’s premium brand of ‘Elite Berry’ blueberries are bringing locally-grown blueberries back to the market fresh from its Al Foah Farm with three new varieties, exclusive to the region. In addition to the famous jumbo blueberry named “Eureka”, the farm is growing variants called Eureka Sunrise, Dazzle, and Masena to help diversify and lengthen the harvest season to run from the end of December until June.
This year, blueberries will be grown over an area of 25.8 hectares at Al Foah farm, encompassing 40 greenhouses and more than doubling the previous area of 12 hectares. Each greenhouse nurtures 3,350 blueberry plants that thrive in a climate-controlled environment enabled by advanced technologies.
“By planting new varieties of blueberries that are partnered with sustainable farming techniques, we continue to build on our success of supplying locally produced blueberries to UAE consumers, in line with our ambitions to support food security through sustainable farming,” said Dr Abdulmonem Almarzooqi, CEO and Managing Director at Elite Agro Holding.
Blueberries were first planted in 2017 at Elite Agro’s Al Foah Farm to supply the local market with high-quality locally-grown produce that exponentially reduces the farm-to-shelf time, retaining flavour and freshness. By expanding the harvest season, Elite Agro will be able to supply locally-grown blueberries to UAE retailers for almost eight months of the year, which will help to further reduce the carbon footprint created by blueberry imports.
The company has seen consecutive successful years of harvests, increasing its output earlier this year to 280 tons of blueberries, compared to 210 tons in 2021. In the new season, it expects to increase production to more than 400 tons, ensuring consumers can obtain the freshest locally-grown high-quality blueberries for longer.
“Sustainability plays a major role in our operations and the produce we grow. By implementing natural pollination and pest-control, thanks to our bumblebee families that live on our farms, supplemented by top-notch farming techniques,” Dr Almarzooqi added.
At its Al Ain farm, Elite Agro is implementing solutions that bring nature and technology together in a partnership that delivers optimal yield and high-quality produce through sustainable farming.
Elite Agro uses precision irrigation technology with advanced water-saving capabilities, to make micro irrigation through a drip system more accessible, less labour-intensive, and – consequently – more cost-effective. A unique combination of fertilisers are distributed through this system by mixing them with water.
The blueberry saplings are planted in a growing medium, which is a combination of coco peat, perlite and other substances, explicitly created for blueberries. The growth of individual plants is nurtured by regular soil and foliage analysis.
Blueberries have been gaining popularity as a ‘superfood’, because they are believed to have one of the highest antioxidant levels among common fruit and vegetables. Antioxidants protect the body from free radicals that damage cells and contribute to ageing and diseases.
Last year, EAG farms in the UAE supplied 17,447 tonnes of fruits and vegetables to the local market. As the largest potato and blueberry producer in the UAE, in addition to producing a wide range of other crops, the company’s strategy is to enhance the resilience of the UAE’s agricultural industry, reduce its carbon footprint, and provide high-quality fresh produce local consumers can trust.
Customers can buy Elite Berry Blueberries from leading retailers including Spinneys, Carrefour and other leading retailers.