Growers in Egypt and Jordan have discovered berries as a high-value cash crop. Middle-class consumers in Europe and the Middle East are becoming more health-conscious, and berries are full of nutritious goodness and a great way to ensure kids get their vitamins. As horticultural innovation has been able to allow growers to produce more for less, berries have become more accessible for consumers’ weekly diets. There are great opportunities for Dutch technologies and expertise to strengthen berry production.

In Egypt, open field strawberries are an established cash crop. Smallholders have been producing strawberries for the market in Qalubeia governorate for generations. Egypt’s competitive advantage at scale makes it an exporter of frozen strawberries delivering local added value. Jordan shares a lucrative exporting window with Israel for exporting strawberries, yet they can guarantee their produce does not come from occupied territories. Al-Jabali Farms, which has been supported by the Netherlands-funded HEAD-Jo project is using Dutch hydroponic technology to grow strawberries to capture this market opportunity.

Hydroponic strawberries in Jordan

Dutch propagation material contributes to berry growing opportunities. Recently, a shipment of 13680 berry seedlings arriving from the Netherlands to Alexandria was cleared for imports. A committee from the Central Administration of Horticulture and Agricultural Crops, the Agricultural Quarantine Authority, and the Plant Pathology Research Institute examined them and concluded that they were safe to enter the market, according to  Al Masry Al Youm.

Innovative berry production in Egypt.

Beyond strawberries, more opportunities exist as a ‘Knowledge and Inspiration Tour’ organized by NABC recently discovered. Fresh produce grower exporter Belco is working to adapt blueberries to the local climate for its trading partner Bakker Barendrecht, which supplies Albert Heijn supermarkets in the Netherlands. The berry value chain was identified as a point for the follow-up to demonstrate growing media, crop protection, irrigation and fertigation technology, and expertise from the Netherlands.  

An Egyptian-Dutch family business My Very Fruits uses an internet platform as well as direct sales to target sales of ‘exotic’ fruits to the Egyptian middle class. Using Dutch technology and propagation materials, they are substituting for expensive imports making these healthy fruits more available to Egyptian consumers. 

The agricultural team in Egypt and Jordan will continue to follow horticultural developments and work with partners to co-innovate locally relevant solutions to unlock opportunities. 

For more information:
Ministry of agriculture, nature and food quality of the Netherlands