By Clint Thompson
Diversification is a key to Georgia’s success, especially to its fruit and vegetable industry, believes Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp. The Georgia Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association recently celebrated its 25th anniversary where Kemp was in attendance. He spoke about the industry’s potential moving forward.
“I think one of things that’s been encouraging to me, and I ran on strengthening rural Georgia; we’ve done more projects in rural Georgia over the last two years than we have previously. A lot of investments, a lot of jobs, trying to help diversify the rural economy, bring rural broadband and continue to do a lot of the things that we need to,” Kemp said.
“I think the industry from a fruit and vegetable standpoint continues to diversify, too. You’ve got onion farmers that are now growing sweet potatoes. The blueberry market has gotten huge. We’re still growing peaches. That’s diversified into more agritourism and selling ice cream and a lot of other things. I think that’s what’s so innovative about this industry, which makes it exciting to think about the next 25 years.
According to UGA Extension, fruits and vegetables are the state’s No. 2 cash crop. Georgia is known as the Peach State, but blueberries have spiked in popularity over the past decade. Other fruit and vegetables like onions and watermelons are synonymous with South Georgia agriculture.
The organization’s Southeast Regional Fruit and Vegetable Conference is scheduled for Jan. 6-9, 2022, in Savannah, Georgia.