Blueberries: A Potential High Return Investment for the Azores Economy

Group bush of a ripe and green blueberries on tree at organic farm in Burlington, Washington, USA. Soft and select focus. Blueberries harvest picking season background.The Azores islands, located in the mid-Atlantic ocean provide a unique, narrow climate that ranges from 15 degrees celsius to 25 degrees annually. The winter months in the Azores do not receive snow or frost, however it tends to rain more during this season which makes everything bloom colorfully in the spring. One of the obstacles of living on an island as being able to enjoy your favorite fruits year round without having to paying outrages prices to import them to these small Atlantic islands. The Azores is lucky that it has a rich volcanic soil, with variations in pH balance which allows plants and trees to thrive here. The region has had many boom and bust periods in its 500 year existence relating to agriculture with the 18th century being devoted to Oranges, the 19th century tea, the 20th century was pineapples and the 21st century will belong to blueberries!Fresh Organic Blueberries on the bush. close upThe island of Sao Miguel, which is the largest in the archipelago with 53% of the population of the Azores residing on this green island is the perfect testing grounds for this popular fruit. Blueberries are becoming one of the worlds most popular fruits due to its antioxidant properties and unique flavoring for desserts. The island has the perfect temperature that is not to cold and not to hot with just enough rain in the winter months to allow these bushes to grow bushy and full of fruit. The islands have never been known for producing edible blueberries and have a similar plant called the Azorean Blueberry which is a blue-bud like plant, however it does not produce the famous edible fruit. One of the many reasons so many people are visiting this isolated location in the Atlantic is due to the unique flora and fauna that exists in this old world European island.Blueberries.The blueberry would make the perfect addition to the already rich Azorean culture and will not only create a wealth of jobs but will add to the already impressive collection of fruits that come from this unique region. The cost of blueberries have always been expensive and more so in Azores where they must be imported from abroad instead of creating a local economy here in the region. The vast green pastures, high altitude hillsides and deep forested valleys, makes it an ideal place to test the yield levels of the blueberry bush for commercial production. The pH balance required to grow blueberries matches that with the soil properties of a large portion of Sao Miguel. By investing in this sector of the commercial produce market for regional consumption it would create a whole new set of jobs in the various areas of gardening, maintenance, tourism etc; all skills that apply to the local population and who would benefit from the investment.HeidelbeerenThe Azores is and always has been an agriculture based society, with only recently tourism introducing a new revenue stream for local businesses and government coffers. The recent economic downturn which hit Europe in 2008, hit the region hard for a few years with the tourism industry introducing hundreds of thousands of new travellers to the region, and its products. The region has invested heavily in the agriculture sector with nature and tourisim being critical in the continued prosperity of the region. In introducing a new plant to the region for commercial production is essential in the continued growth of the region and the blueberry being cost-effective in cultivation and maintenance as well as commanding a fair market price will create hundreds of long-term jobs for the region.Berry harvest in the garden, organic produce picking, blueberries and hands, close-up

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