The company is starting its new venture in ecological crops, aimed at becoming the first bio auction in Murcia.
At the end of the year, the company started up a transition plan towards ecological produce on around 20 hectares of California peppers that will come into production in 2021.
“The idea involves opening up a daily sales line at auction with ecological produce that offers all the guarantees provided by our farmer partners and from which any exporter operator who needs it can benefit,” explains Angel García, managing director of the company.
At present, Soltir’s farmers are receiving different informative talks about what the move from conventional to ecological involves. “The reality is that they have been very receptive because they know that there is an important increase in the demand, but above all because this transition is very easy for some products such as California peppers, as we have been using integrated control methods for many years and it will only mean adding another few steps for the produce to become ecological.”
In the production arena, the current campaign will have the same hectares of pepper as last year, around 450. With regard to broccoli and artichokes, there has been an important reduction. Production volumes of broccoli have dropped by 15% and artichokes by 20%. However, it is worth mentioning that the artichoke campaign is showing some very good results, with interesting payments for the farmers, between 80 cents and 2 euros.
“The truth is the weather conditions have been good this year, since the November rains were highly beneficial for the artichokes and, to the contrary of what occurred in the Vega Baja or Campo de Lorca production areas, we haven’t had any frosts.”
However, the star product of the year has been the courgette, with an increase in surface area of 16%. “The supply conditions to clients are excellent and everything is pointing towards the fact that we will reinforce this product as its demand is growing.”
The main obstacle to the growing of this crop, the New Delhi virus, has been controlled by Soltir’s producers with a highly refined isolation level, which starts from the moment of planting until harvesting and that consists of an internal plastic covering inside the greenhouse itself. This covering isolates the plant as it grows until it reaches cutting time.
At the end of March, the latest technological investment of around 500,000 euros will be started up and this will involve the automation of the warehouses, and it will include a robotic arm for moving goods.
Although the DNA of Soltir and its farmers is clearly aimed at using auctioning as the main sales method, for the past few campaigns the company has chosen direct marketing, a risk diversification method. “I believe that we have to evolve along with time or, at least, have another option and this is also what we are will be seeking when we have daily auctions with eco produce. It will be a new alternative.”