Barberton Blue is a large-scale, 45-ha blueberry farm being developed on land owned by Barberton Mines. The first phase of the development, comprising of a 15-ha blueberry farm with 94 000 plants under tunnel at a cost of approximately US$ 2.3 million, is now in the final stages of completion.
The Barberton region has a high unemployment rate, and interventions are needed to alleviate this situation. Blueberry harvesting is a highly labour-intensive process, done entirely through hand picking due to the nature of the crop. During construction of the first phase, 80 jobs were created, with 22 now retained permanently for care and maintenance during growth. Seasonal berry picking requirements are expected to create over 800 seasonal jobs for 6 months of the year as the project expands.
This agri-business venture demonstrates a long-term, financially viable investment that is socially and environmentally sustainable. All positive attributes for the Group’s rural community development strategies.