South Africa: Western Cape cherry farms bloom due to overseas’ demand

As growers are currently dealing with a terribly dry season in the Western Cape, it is important to realise that cherries use about half as much water (per hectare) compared to apples. And not only are they less ‘thirsty’ than apples‚ they are proving to be popular with markets overseas, which is excellent for South Africa’s pressured agricultural economy.

The primary market for locally produced cherries is the UK. Hong Kong‚ the Netherlands and Malaysia forming the remainder of the top four export markets.
Once a very small crop in the Western Cape‚ cherries have more than quadrupled their export market share over the last four years‚ and continue to show excellent potential as an alternative crop. The Western Cape government has to date invested nearly R7 million (4725,000 euros) in the development of alternative crops such as berries‚ cherries‚ fynbos‚ pomegranates and honeybush.

According to a businesslive.co.za article, these are smaller‚ export-oriented crops with high market-value‚ and greater potential for job creation‚ the province believes.

The export value of SA cherries has increased exponentially: total exports of the fruit in 2012 were valued at R2.6 million (177,000 euros), reaching R28 million (1.9 million euros) in 2016. Similar growth trends are being seen in fresh berry exports‚ which grew in value from R1.5 million (102,000 euros) in 2004‚ to R80 million (5.4 million euros) in 2013.


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