OZblu is a member of the Sustainability Initiative of South Africa (SIZA), which provides a platform for agricultural stakeholders to ensure ethical and environmentally sustainable trade.
OZblu believes that economic performance is inseparable from social and environmental performance.
We see ourselves as not only guardians of the Earth but also of our workers, their families and the communities in which we farm. Our economic success enables us to continue in this role as Guardian.
Due to our continuing investment in our South African orchards, our blueberry volumes are expected to be up by 150% this year in South Africa, with a doubling expected yearly for the foreseeable future. Fortunately, global demand is keeping pace: at least 80% of our South African production is for export – more than half to the UK, but also to the EU, the whole of the Middle East and the Far East (Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia).
With our growth comes the rewards of increased GDP and its associated benefits and further employment opportunities. Which links to the social pillar of sustainability.
OZblu recognizes that if it were not for our hard-working employees we would be nothing. We also believe that good food is grown with a happy heart. As such we set out to provide uplifting, fair and equitable workplaces and have set policies to ensure this happens.
By investing in non-traditional berry growing areas we are actively creating new employment opportunities. We are honoured to play an active role in the upliftment of these communities through the empowerment of the individuals through these job opportunities and associated training.
We believe we have a responsibility to be leaders in the agricultural industry in terms of environmental sustainability. We work in harmony with nature and employ various farming methods to ensure the protection of our ecosystems and biosphere as well as the quality of the air, land and water upon which all life is dependent.
Here are four key areas where we invest our efforts for environmental sustainability.
Soil is the foundation upon which a nation’s entire agricultural system has been built. Soil life is the cement that holds the pillars of agricultural sustainability (environmental, economic, and social) in place.
Healthy soil is the base upon which our entire farming ecosystem depends. If it’s essential nutrients and microbes are not replenished season to season, it will continue to degrade the quality of crops, and threaten the long-term viability of the land.
To ensure soil vitality we begin each planting season by correcting the pH and chemical balance of the soil. Then, a substantial amount of organic matter (the life-force of the soil) is added to improve the soil’s water holding capacity – which in turn, reduces the amount of water needed from irrigation.
Just as a healthy body is more resistant to infections, so too healthy soil builds up a plant’s resistance to attacks from disease and insects. By working with nature in this way we are able to minimize the use of synthetic pesticides.
A large, healthy blueberry plant produces thousands of flower buds every year. With up to 16 individual flowers developing from each bud, every flower a potential berry, pollination needs in blueberries are great.
Blueberry pollen is sticky and relatively heavy. It cannot move on its own and it is not easily blown around by the wind. Furthermore, the shape and position of blueberry flower parts effectively prevent the pollen from falling onto a receptive stigma. So a little help is needed – and Mother Nature has the answer! To produce a blueberry, the flowers of a blueberry plant must be pollinated by insects.
Working in harmony with nature, OZblu blueberries are naturally pollinated by bees sourced from local, registered beekeepers. In doing so, not only are we supporting local industry, but the bees themselves whose population is under threat due to colony collapse disorder (CCD) or vanishing bee syndrome.
Our farmers are committed to the sustainable use of water. Soil moisture content and run off are measured before irrigation to avoid unnecessary water use.
OZblu’s are hydrated with water from natural sources. This water is routinely tested for heavy metals and microbial contamination and, if need be, treated naturally with UV, Ozone and Hydrogen Peroxide.
Agricultural practices based on non-conservative tillage and over-reliance of pesticides has a devastating effect on soil life and water quality.
Our farmers use biological products as much as possible as well as Integrated Pest Management (IPM) systems to prevent, monitor and control pest and disease problems. In this way we are able to minimize the use of synthetic pesticides.
In this way we are able to get high yields of bigger, bolder blueberries while minimizing the use of synthetic pesticides.
We do not use any pesticides containing glyphosate.