Locally-grown raspberries, blackberries and strawberries will soon be on sale across the UAE.
Elite Agro, a UAE food producer, is bringing commercial quantities of the fruits to the market for the first time.
“As part of our commitment to deliver the freshest farm produce to our customers, we’re expanding our range of high-quality crops to include three new types of berries,” said Ian Summerfield, chief executive of Elite Agro.
“We’re proud to be the UAE’s only producer of locally-grown blueberries and we’re confident that this expansion will open even more opportunities to achieve greater success in sustainable farming, in line with the UAE’s food security strategy,” he said.
The berry saplings were first planted in November 2021 at the company's farm in Al Foah in Al Ain. They are grown in temperature-controlled greenhouses using drip irrigation in coco peat, perlite and other substances. Each plant is naturally pollinated by a family of “loveable and very helpful” bumblebees, the company said.
Its raspberry production area is now 1.8 hectares with about 18,500 stems per hectare, and is expected to yield 18 tonnes of raspberries per hectare.
The blackberry production area is 1.2 hectares with an average of 30,000 stems per hectare, and is expected to yield 20 tonnes per hectare.
The all-new berry range will be available in retail stores such as Spinneys and Carrefour in the coming weeks under the “elite berry” brand, or they can be ordered online.
Over the past few years, increasing amounts of food are being grown in the UAE using advanced methods such as indoor vertical farms to grow leafy greens in Abu Dhabi to organic farmed salmon in huge tanks in Jebel Ali.
Earlier this week, Mariam Al Mheiri, Minister of Climate Change and Environment, said the transformation to sustainable food systems was an “urgent task and we don’t have a lot of time".
“The UAE seeks to become a leading exporter of sustainable agricultural solutions for hot and arid climates.
Ms Al Mheiri was speaking after a UAE and US-led global coalition to enhance food security and limit the impact of climate change announced a plan to double its investment target from $4 billion to $8bn by the time Cop27 begins in Egypt this November.
The Agriculture Innovation Mission for Climate (AIM for Climate) had its first ministerial-level meeting in Dubai on Monday.
The projects aims to work with small farm holders in low and middle income countries to promote emerging technologies and agro-ecological research.