Blueberry sector ripe for growth06 October 2016
FREDERICTON (GNB) – With a comprehensive five-year development strategy in place, New Brunswick is poised to become one of the world’s biggest producers of wild blueberries.
“We are standing on the edge of success in the blueberry industry,” said Agriculture, Aquaculture and Fisheries Minister Rick Doucet. “It is time for the government and industry to come together to unlock the full potential of this exciting opportunity.”
The expansion of the sector has been identified as a key opportunity for development in the New Brunswick Economic Growth Plan, released last month.
“The plan is focused on developing opportunities where we have a distinct competitive advantage,” said Doucet. “We have the optimal climate, geography and land availability for wild blueberry development, and the government is committed to working with producers to open up every avenue for success.”
Wild blueberry production has more than tripled over the past decade and the provincial government anticipates further growth as the Wild Blueberry Sector Strategy continues to unfold.
The strategy calls for the development of thousands of new acres, consisting of both private and Crown land, over the next decade; research into productivity improvements; increased private investment in new and existing acreage; and an increase in value-added processing capabilities.
“Wild blueberry production has enormous potential for fueling economic growth in our province,” said Doucet. “Our government recognizes that potential and is developing initiatives to take full advantage of it.”
There are 39,000 acres, both private and Crown land, currently under production in multiple locations and at various stages across the province, from the Acadian Peninsula to Charlotte County. The wild blueberry industry currently supports an estimated 440 jobs.
The government recognizes that First Nations communities have an interest in becoming more involved in the industry, and is working with those communities to ensure that they have opportunities to participate.
Earlier this year, the provincial government offered nearly 4,000 acres of Crown land in Gloucester and Northumberland counties to lease for commercial cultivation of wild blueberries.
More than 300 farm families are involved in the province’s wild blueberry industry. New Brunswick accounts for 25 per cent of Canada’s overall production.