In a few years’ time 20% of the fruit and vegetables marketed by the cooperative from Almeria will be ecological.
They were pioneers in integrated production, years ago when they decided to carry out the first trials with this pest control tool and now they are taking another step forward by strengthening their ecological production. In the 2016/17 campaign, they will have 20 hectares (5% of the total) using this cultivation system; and in another two years, between 80 and 100 hectares will be added, 20% of its crop land. In this way, Coprohníjar is committing itself to sustainability and to respond to the emerging trends on the markets. The chairman, Juan Segura, advances that most of the ‘eco’ production will correspond to tomatoes, the cooperative’s main crop (during the last campaign it reached 35 million kilos in total) and the remainder to watermelons. “We are going to cultivate 20 hectares of different varieties of ecological tomatoes, some of them in short cycle, which we then will replace with 10 of watermelon”.
The top destinations of Coprohníjar’s fruit and vegetables are Germany, the UK, Scandinavia and Holland. The United Kingdom makes up 25% of its total invoicing for tomatoes, meaning that after the announcement of Brexit, there is some concern due to the instability of the pound. In order to settle this, the company has established the euro as its payment currency on the many sales programmes that it has with the United Kingdom. “It is a way of remaining calm”, Segura explains. At the same time, the cooperative continues to search out alternative markets to channel its sales in case of any possible problems derived from the English split off. Coprohníjar already explored this route a few years’ ago, when the Russian embargo forced it to look for a home for 10% of its production. The Nordic countries and others such as the Czech Republic and Belarus, where they operate through Anecoop, have become some of the destinations where it is increasing its sales quota.
Along with the ‘eco’ project, the company from Almeria is also working on another interesting line that will allow it to become differentiated: papaya production. For this year it has around 4,000 m² of cropland, which started to give their first fruits in December. “We are in a trial phase along with Anecoop to see the real feasibility of this produce and there is a reasonable amount of expectation, but it has its disadvantages. It is complicated to find varieties that adapt to the land and that have the correct Brix degrees and ideal flavour”. This fruit means an alternative to the winter fruit and vegetables in the province, and it offers a wide commercial window that covers 8 months of production.