Elite Agro (EAG) is bringing the UAE’s only locally-grown blueberries back to the market to meet the growing demand for this popular superfood.
All four exclusive varieties, including the famous jumbo blueberry named “Eureka”, are grown at our Al Foah farm which covers an area of 12 hectares with 20 greenhouses. Each greenhouse contains 3,350 blueberry plants that thrive in a climate-controlled environment enabled by state-of-the-art automated technology.
Blueberries were first planted in 2017 at our Al Foah Farm with the aim of exponentially reducing the farm-to-shelf time, increasing flavour retention, and maximising freshness. We are implementing solutions that bring nature and technology together in a partnership that delivers optimal yield and high-quality produce through sustainable farming.
“We are extremely proud of our success in growing fresh, local, and high-quality blueberries which our customers have grown to love in the UAE. This harvest season, our farmers at Al Foah will be handpicking blueberries from over 60,000+ plants, all sustainably grown and naturally pollinated by our colony of bees,” said Ian Summerfield, Elite Agro CEO.
At Elite Agro, we use bumblebees as a natural method of pollination to increase our blueberry harvest. We are also using 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 it with the 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.
“We’re taking sustainable blueberry farming techniques to a new level in a country dominated by the deserts, and the results have been phenomenal,” remarked Summerfield.
Showcasing a successful track record of harvest and supplying high-quality blueberries from January to May, we expect to grow our 2022 output to 280 tons of blueberries, compared to 210 tons in 2021.
The significantly ramped-up crop will be harvested during a 14-week period to ensure consumers can obtain the freshest locally-grown blueberries from neighbourhood retailers.
Additionally, to meet the increasing demand, we aim to increase production capacity by adding 13 hectares of greenhouse space dedicated to growing 72,000 plants for the 2023 crop harvest.
“Our expansion plan is underlined by the success and demand for our newly-rebranded ‘Elite Berry’ brand which provides the freshest and best-quality blueberries in the country. With our state-of-the-art growing and distribution techniques, we guarantee a two-hand touch approach – which means no one touches the blueberries after the picker and before the consumer – combined with an efficient packing and delivery process,” Summerfield added.
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 aging and diseases.