IFC and the Dutch entrepreneurial development bank (FMO) have announced a partnership that will see the two strengthening South Africa’s blueberry sector.
The partnership agenda involves providing funding and advisory support to United Exports Limited to help the company increase sustainable blueberry production, create jobs, and boost women’s participation in management roles.
IFC and FMO will loan up to €14 million to United Exports, supporting the fruit logistics company’s strategy to mitigate the impact of frost through the adoption of next generation OZblu® blueberry varieties that fall outside the frost window and expand its blueberry orchards to frost free areas, including to the Western Cape region.
Majority of the funding will cater for climate-smart agriculture practices and will help the company adopt drip irrigation systems and water meters, among other measures. 1,340 employment is projected to be created by 2030 and in increase in United Exports’ agribusiness value chain is also set to be recorded.
“Our track record in terms of FDI, foreign earnings, job creation and tackling gender inequality is something we are very proud of, and this has only been possible with the commitment and partnership of IFC and FMO,” said Founder and Executive Chairman of United Exports, Roger Horak.
“FMO is proud to once again support United Exports to increase financial inclusion across South Africa’s agricultural landscape by investing in the country’s emerging blueberry industry,” said FMO Director of Agribusiness, Food and Water, Pieternel Boogaard. “This transaction aligns perfectly with our agri strategy to support sustainable growth with both climate change adaptation and development impact.”
“IFC’s longstanding support for United Exports aligns with our strategy to help promote climate-smart agribusiness, create jobs and enhance women’s participation in management in South Africa,” said IFC Country Manager for South Africa, Adamou Labara. “This project will play a key role in helping to position South Africa as an emerging blueberry production hub.”
The agriculture sector accounts for 27% of total employment in South Africa but contributes only 2.5% to GDP and 1% to exports. This presents an opportunity to significantly enhance the sector’s contribution to economic growth.