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FROM TOBACCO TO BLUEBERRIES: TRANSFORMING FOR SUSTAINABILITY- South Africa

Two traditional South African tobacco farms in Limpopo are undergoing significant transformations in becoming sustainable blueberry producing farm businesses under United Export’s premium OZblu brand.

Traditional and inadequate housing structures are making way for newly upgraded housing facilities on Waterberg Berries [close to Vaalwater] where OZblu estate manager Carel van der Merwe and his team had settled in just over a year ago. “When I arrived here, there were no toilets for the farm workers, and most of the housing structures were in ruins,” said Van der Merwe.

Four of the original farms’ workers had stayed on the farm when Van der Merwe took over and together with 12 newly appointed permanent farm assistants they are busy renovating and upgrading the housing structures to provide upgraded houses and ablutions, incorporating solar technology for the staff and their families.

Van der Merwe says that they sold the traditional tobacco irrigation systems and kilns and replaced them with new fertigation equipment and systems that are suitable for blueberry production. Altogether 50ha of blueberries has been planted on Waterberg Berries at the beginning of this year.

In the same way that Waterberg’s location is ideal for blueberry production, so too is Metsi Berries, the farm of grower Eduard Pauer, a former tobacco, corn and popcorn farmer. He started planting blueberries on his farm, in collaboration with OZblu. Currently, he has 27ha of OZblu blueberry varieties growing under shade netting and still expanding.

“I can’t wait to get out of bed in the morning and into the fields,” says Pauer who stopped all his tobacco operations eleven years ago because it was no longer feasible. He had to sell a part of his farm, as well as equipment to pay off tobacco debts after the corporation at Potgietersrus closed down.

He also had to lay off some of his workers when he started planting less labour-intensive crops. It was at this stage that he met OZblu founder and global CEO, Roger Horak, who convinced him to direct his energy to blueberries.

Metsi Berries now employs 45 people on a permanent basis. Together Pauer and his team are upgrading and renovating the accommodation facilities on the farm to also provide for seasonal workers during harvest time.

“We are in our second year of blueberry production, and we are convinced that we will see our investment grow year on year,” says Pauer.

For further information

Contact Chloë Frey

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About OZblu

Because not all blueberries are created equal!

OZblu blueberries – a leading producer of new blueberry varieties – prides itself on producing a range of blueberries that are bigger, sweeter, crunchier and juicer than the older traditional varieties, through a unique and sustainable breeding programme.

Since its first commercial planting in 2013, OZblu has made a significant investment in global blueberry production. Focusing on high-level, ethical, technical and sustainable production, while taking advantage of the different climates and rainfall seasons across the globe, OZblu is able to produce consistent, high-quality blueberry varieties year-round for our delighted consumers.

The healthy life is definitely one worth living, and OZblu blueberries will make staying healthy a breeze. For more information visit www.ozblu.com, or connect with OZblu on social media: Instagram and Facebook.

About United Exports

Established by Roger Horak in 2003, United Exports is an international company specialising in the licensing and sub-licensing of leading fruit genetics. As a vertically integrated business, the core business units are varietal breeding, fruit production, packing and export/import services.

United Exports is best known for its global footprint of OZblu, for the OZblu blueberry brand and its innovative, sustainable and precision approach to producing these exciting varieties of blueberries.

Find out more at www.united-exports.com or contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.    PETRO MOSTERT


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