Kouga Berries in the Eastern Cape’s Gamtoos Valley has just picked their last blueberries for the season - their last export berries will arrive in overseas markets in week 2.

Understandably, the crop was somewhat lower than last year’s large crop as a result of the relentless drought in the area, very high summer temperatures and a deterioration in water quality.

“The drought has played a large role because we’ve been forced to make use of alternative water sources, largely driven by water quality,” says Frik du Preez, director at Kouga Berries.

Happily, recently rainfall in both the Gamtoos Valley as well as its catchment area, the Langkloof, has improved their prospects. The level of the Kouga Dam has risen to 15.57%, which supplies irrigation water to citrus, vegetable and blueberry growers in this area.

“The rain in our region hasn’t been a lot but it’s significant and it helps a lot with the citrus season that lies ahead. We’re very grateful for the rain we’ve had, it looks better than last year this time.”

This has been their fourth season of blueberries, which are packed into Driscolls programmes overseas, and locally for Woolworths’ Flavourburst line as well as for municipal markets.

There was a definite expansion in the amount of blueberries for the Middle East and the Far East (Malaysia, Singapore) and less was sent to the United Kingdom, but that, Frik notes, has a lot to do with cultivar plant breeders’ rights applying to particular countries.

Despite their proximity to Port Elizabeth and Ngqura, Eastern Cape blueberries are shipped from either Durban or Cape Town. He says that approximately 80% of the fruit was sent by sea freight.

“Logistics were fairly normal without the major problems that hampered the citrus season,” he says.

Giraffes in the revivified bush around the Kouga Dam after recent rains following years of drought (photo by Frik du Preez)

For more information:
Frik du Preez
Kouga Berries
Tel: +27 87 350 0227
Email: kougaberries@gamtoos.co.za