Positive development of the professional programs organized by Blueberries Consulting and the University of Almería

After completing the final evaluations, students and the program team discuss the first joint project of the renowned institutions.

On October 17, the virtual classes began, where María del Carmen Salas, director of the diploma course, speaker and teacher at the University of Almería, shared a few words of welcome for the students.

"This course was born after many years of collaborative work and after detecting the need, both nationally and internationally, for specialized technical training in crop management, first of all, without soil and more specifically, in the cultivation of blueberries," he said.

After nearly two months of development, the organization is beginning to finalize the first version of the professional programs specialized in blueberry irrigation and nutrition designed by the University of Almería and Blueberries Consulting.

Jorge Esquivel Manterola is the director of Blueberries Consulting, a company dedicated to the generation and dissemination of specialized information on the production and export of fresh blueberries, and co-director of professional courses. After years working together in the industry, and always with the aim of promoting knowledge and innovation in the competitive sector, together with María del Carmen Salas they decided to create a technical training program on specialized topics in the popular berry. 

"Irrigation and nutrition in blueberries is essential to have quality fruit. Trials indicate that improving irrigation produces increases of up to 28% in yield. It is key to have instruments and know how to interpret their results to optimize the productive system”, explains Esquivel about the choice of topics on which the courses focused.

There were 29 speakers who gave the talks of the two academic levels of the program; experts, researchers and academics from countries such as the United States, Canada, Chile, Germany, Belgium, Spain, Portugal, Argentina and Peru.

“Great exponents participated, and we are very grateful to have been able to count on them. For us it is important that our students have access to chairs of world-renowned academics and researchers”, said the director of Blueberries Consulting.

María del Carmen Salas complements: "I sincerely believe that it is fundamental in crops such as blueberries to adopt innovative techniques. The only way to be able to do it with as few errors as possible is by relying on the experience of people who are working or scientists who know similar topics. They will not give you the answer to your specific problems, but they will help you when making decisions. And I am sure that the people who took this course will see and appreciate it”.

The companies Encipharm and iFoodDS provided scholarships to technical and professional teams, being part of the outstanding group of organizations that collaborated with the program, which includes Fall Creek, Inka's Berries, AGQ Labs, Family Farms, Valle y Pampa, Grupo Fico and Gremon Systems. .

From the student body

"The quality of the speakers and the content is very powerful” he stated Saida León, who was congratulated multiple times for the recognition of winning the scholarship iFoodDS to enter the program. Today she is one of the best evaluated students.

“Happy, because working and studying is not easy, especially at my age and with my family and work responsibility. It is a good opportunity and it makes me happy to have good results”, expressed León. 

Víctor Marí Almirall, who began his career as a biologist to later dedicate himself to agriculture at the Laimburg Research Center, Italy, says he feels satisfied and happy to have completed the course.

“I liked the progressive increase in the specificity of the program, as well as its complexity. Specifically, the lessons with Maria del Carmen Salas, Juan Hirzel and Jorge Retamales made it possible to maintain a common thread on techniques, nutrition and physiology respectively, so that the lessons from other interlocutors fit very well into the course", indicated the outstanding student. 

The knowledge acquired by the professional wishes to apply it to his work at the Research Center.

“Now I have an idea of ​​how I should provide the optimal nutrients in each phenological phase and also how to use foliar fertilization to prevent or solve nutritional imbalances. This center (Laimburg) is a showcase for all agriculture in the region. If the field develops satisfactorily and the data shows that blueberries are profitable in the region, the crop would become much more important," Almirall stated.

Who also expressed his joy with the programs was Juan Valdivia Chumbe, beneficiary of the scholarship awarded by the company Encipharm"I am grateful for the opportunity they gave me and I am satisfied to have the technical base of cultivation. This will be able to be replicated within the field by making an adjustment in the nutritional template, the management of types of light in the crop and by making an adjustment in the hydraulics of the irrigation system”, he exemplifies. 

Juan Valdivia is not the only student excited to apply the new knowledge.

“Now we are at the peak of the harvest in Chile, applying and understanding each lesson to obtain better fruit quality. Later in February I start with trips to Peru to see producers from Ica to Chepén, we are also developing studies of new blueberry genetics and developing new projects, so I will be able to apply what I have learned in a very good way”, expressed Boris Negroni, a positively evaluated student by the speakers. 

“For the first experience, it seems to me that it has been very good. In my experience organizing courses, I think that it has an added difficulty that it is all virtual. For the hours that the programs imply, what we have done seems very well organized: the recordings are good, the answers that are being given to the students are being given; the questionnaires to evaluate them and the feedback developed very well”, expressed Salas.

In her experience as director and speaker of the programs, María del Carmen concluded: "I think there has been a good response from students and teachers." 

By Catalina Pérez Ruiz - Blueberries Consulting.

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