Elite Agro, a leading UAE producer and distributor of fresh produce, has announced that it will double its blueberry production capacity by adding 14 hectares of greenhouses dedicated to growing an additional 72,000 plants for the 2023 harvest.
Triggered by growing consumer demand for the locally produced high-quality berries, the company has already increased its output capacity for 2022 to 280 tons of blueberries, compared to 205 tons in 2021. The significantly ramped-up crop was harvested during a 17-week period to ensure consumers can obtain the freshest locally grown blueberries from neighbourhood retailers.
Their crop of premium branded ‘Elite Berry’ blueberries is made up of five varieties, including the famous blueberry named ‘Eureka Jumbo’, are all grown at the Al Foah Farm in Al Ain where 20 greenhouses, covering 12 hectares are dedicated to producing this incredibly popular fruit. Each greenhouse is home to over 3,350 blueberry plants that thrive from a climate-controlled environment enabled by state-of-the-art automated technology. The company also aspires to plant other varieties of blueberries that will ensure early winter production in addition to an extended harvesting period.
“As the first blueberry producer in the country, we had incredible success in our debut year of 2020 with production doubling after just one year. As we look ahead, we will soon quadruple our production capabilities, which is a testament to how popular our home-grown premium blueberries have become. This has all been made possible through the use of revolutionary technology, our state-of-the-art infrastructure and smart farming techniques at our greenhouses that allow the production of the highest quality, freshest and most reliable harvest,” commented Ian Summerfield, Elite Agro CEO.
The blueberry plant saplings are sown in a growing medium, which is a combination of coco peat, perlite and other substances, explicitly created for blueberries. A drip irrigation system is used to supply them with nutrients that have been mixed with water, while controlling the growth of individual plants by regular soil and foliage analysis.
“Our focus as a company is on ensuring future food security, while also keeping in mind the increasingly important tasks of saving water and overcoming the challenges of climate change. We’re also investing in state-of-the-art farming machinery and agro-infrastructure to bring efficiencies along the supply chain. With an increasing population and demand for healthy, quality food, we’re committed to growing high quality nutritious produce that consumers need, and can trust,” Mr Summerfield continued.
The company also grows blueberries in Morocco and Mauritania to supply countries in Northern Europe during the winter, while its farms in Serbia supply the European market during the summer months. Elite Agro also plans to expand production in these countries to increase supply to consumers.
Customers can buy the ‘Elite Berry’ branded blueberries from leading retailers including Spinneys, Carrefour and online at Farmbox, the authentic farm store with a clear mission to offer customers fresh, organic, and premium food and beverage produce from farm to table through their convenient app and website.
Elite Agro, part of Yas Holding, cultivates approximately 3,000 hectares of fresh produce across four major farms, located in Abu Dhabi and Al Ain. The company’s commitment to achieving the Nation’s farming vision is enabled by world-class irrigation and farming technologies, highly competitive and specialised talent, and the most economic use of natural resources conserving water, energy and land.