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We want to leave a lasting legacy in our host communities that exceeds the life of our mines. Barberton Blue, an ambitious blueberry agribusiness venture initiated, and funded by Pan African Resources in Barberton, is one of our flagship social and community development projects that will help us achieve this legacy.

Our objectives:

  • Provide sustainable employment and skills transfer opportunities in our communities
  • Produce 300 tonnes of blueberries per year, through 94 000 blueberry bushes, for export to Europe, the Middle East and Far East
  • Identify potential downstream business opportunities, including packaging facilities and transport logistics

Discover how we’re Mining for a future

Learn more about this community initiative of blueberry farming in South Africa, and why sustainable agriculture and community development is central to our business.

What is Barberton Blue?

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.

In partnership with Primocane Capital

As a mining company, Pan African Resources lacks expertise and experience in agriculture. That is why we have selected agribusiness development specialist Primocane Capital to lead the strategic and infrastructural implementation of Project Blue.

Primocane Capital has a proven track record in agriculture development that ensures the right cultivars are planted for the target market based on a predetermined offtake agreements. Their core focus is to invest in and develop niche agriculture environments that support sustainability, while offering favourable returns for investors and the communities in which it operates.

With a specialist partner on board, we can develop the most efficient and sustainable farming practices to ensure optimal agricultural production – which, in turn, ensures these investments will have a lasting impact on our local communities.

Blueberry farming in Barberton makes sense

Barberton’s geography and climate makes the area one of the best locations for blueberry cultivation in South Africa. South Africa has a reputation for producing high-quality fruit in international markets, and the agricultural sector is vital to South Africa’s economic development. The local and international blueberry market has grown tremendously, with significant demand for blueberries from Europe, the Middle East and the Far East.

For the local communities, the farm will provide a much-needed boost to the local economy and assist in small business development whilst also combatting the high levels of unemployment.

Other agricultural / food projects

At Matsamo Village, in the Nkomazi District, Pan African Resources upgraded the hawkers’ market stalls, and provided storage facilities; running water; electricity and ablution facilities for the fruit and vegetable market stall area. Our objective is to assist small business enterprises and ensure their sustainability, as well as improve cleanliness where food is sold, which contributes to better hygiene and health in our communities.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Agriculture creates jobs in rural areas where there often is not much other formal economic activity. South Africa is well placed to supply the global market with high-quality fruit, and so is likely to create sustainable businesses, and thus, community employment into the future.
The Barberton Blue blueberry bushes will yield up to 3 kilograms of berries each in their first harvest, which will increase to 4 kilograms in the following years. Mature blueberry bushes can produce up to 9 kilograms of berries during each harvest, depending on the cultivar.
Where “agriculture” typically refers to farming-related activities; agribusiness includes the entire production, processing and distribution value chain that gets agricultural goods to market.

Find out more about PAN African Resources’ community development programmes.

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