Morocco: Blueberries in the Sahara
Greater experience and technology
Nabil Belmkaddem, General Manager of the agro-export company BestBerry, based in the province of Kenitra, referring to the prospects of the blueberry industry in Morocco, comments that the growth of the planted area is constant and permanent, although not exponentially. that grew in the period 2015-2019.
At the same time, the executive emphasizes that producers currently have more experience, more technology, and above all have access to a wide range of plant varieties, most of them more productive and of better quality, so that the productivity levels are becoming optimal.
In our conversation we asked him:
What are the prospects for the Moroccan blueberry export industry?
We continue to see growth in terms of acreage, although the rate of increase has started to slow. In fact, we are no longer in the exponential growth phase of 2015-2019. In addition, growers now have a wider range of varietal options and new farms are being established in southern Morocco (Dakhla region, 23º latitude) that will provide greater earliness. We are hearing that the quality of the fruit is better in Dakhla, with Brix degrees above 20 and a good fruit size, due to the right weather conditions. There are also trials with varieties with high cold requirements to be able to produce in summer in the Atlas Mountains.
Advantages and disadvantages
He comments that labor remains the biggest challenge, particularly in northern Morocco, because peak production on farms coincides with the need for labor at the strawberry freezing facilities, as well as the spring cycle. of the raspberry. In the Agadir region, the availability of water is quite challenging. Overproduction of early varieties can also lead to low prices in the future. In addition, early and productive varieties are patented, leaving independent growers with old public varieties.
Among the advantages, it stands out that the blueberry is a perennial crop and presents less complexity of production compared to other berries. The initial investment can pay off over a 10-year period, and if the returns are adequate, the returns are quite good for the growers.
Regarding the crisis caused by the pandemic, he assures that the main challenge is to maintain the safety of the work environment in the fields, during transport, and in the packaging plants. "In Morocco we have been able to maintain production and export to Europe in trucks, but air transport was canceled during the March 2020 pandemic. Air transport is essential to reach the Middle East and Asia," he points out.
The interview can be found exclusively at digital and acquire the BlueMagazine for free on paper, in person, at the launch that will take place in the XX International Blueberry Seminar, to be held at Expo Guadalajara on June 2 and 3.
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