“From the point of view of industry and markets, Morocco has an enviable location”
The researcher at the Agricultural Research Institute of Chile (INIA), Bruno Defilippi, is perhaps the most important reference in post-harvest fruit at an international level and was one of the featured speakers at the International Blueberry Seminar that this was done September 13 and 14 in Agadir.
- What high points would you highlight about the Seminar, the previous tour and what you were able to observe about the Moroccan industry?
- First I would like to highlight the success of this second version of the International Blueberry Seminar in Morocco. Considering that the country suffered a tragic earthquake a few days before the event began. No minor issue for the organization and assistance of exhibitors and attendees.
The first two days were focused on a technical tour visiting companies near the city of Agadir. In general they are productions in pots and all under greenhouse conditions. From the point of view of industry and markets, its location is undoubtedly enviable to supply 95% of its production to the European market, located only 3 to 5 days of transportation between the production area and the consumer. Very similar to the situation that Mexico faces regarding the United States market.
From a productive point of view, there are crucial challenges in terms of managing ambient temperature in critical periods of development, quantity and quality of water for irrigation and labor, among others.
As in other producing countries, practically all genetic programs are present, because the greatest demand from producers is for early varieties with productive dates and with large-caliber fruit. Other aspects, linked to quality or condition of fruit, become secondary given the proximity to the destination markets.
- What aspects need to be improved?
- Despite starting blueberry production more than a decade ago, and currently exceeding 4000 hectares, I believe that the main shortcomings are observed in the low availability of local development at the level of Universities and Institutes, where research and knowledge are developed to respond to the needs of the different blueberry producing areas.
I believe that, in the field of harvest and post-harvest, obviously given its great proximity to the destination market, there is no need to work on aspects of harvest management, logistics and transportation. However, these are issues that will have to be developed with the search for new markets, where for now it involves very smaller volumes.
For the area we visited these two days, basic infrastructure issues are observed that must be developed if commercial conditions vary in the future.
- What future perspectives can be derived for the industry in Morocco?
- As I mentioned, Morocco is undoubtedly a privileged country in its location compared to its destination market, but I believe that they are at the moment of taking an important step to carry out local developments that respond to the challenges of climate and water management, for example. Everything indicates that issues, such as periods of high temperature or other climatic events, will be more frequent and producers must be prepared to face them.
In the field of post-harvest handling of fruit, and given the experience of other supplier countries, the need to develop new markets is clear, and not only by air. This will require the transfer of knowledge already available to be able to arrive with quality fruit, beyond just talking about size.
Professor Defilippi gave the talk: “Challenges and opportunities to reduce losses and improve fruit quality”, in addition to actively participating in the Round Table where the challenges of cultivation and identification of critical points to compete in the markets were discussed.
The presence of Dr. Bruno Defilippi at the XXVIII International Blueberry Seminar in Agadir, meant a great opportunity to interact with a great specialist, who always stands out for his generosity in sharing his extensive knowledge with those interested in the multiple aspects of cultivation.