Specialists for this heavenly fruit are Americans Alex Hall and his son Johnnie. They have settled in Peru and have been growing pomegranate and other organic fruit there on about 20 hectares. Another 50 hectares are underway. Agricultural engineer Volker Schmidt from BioTropic visited this South American country in early April. He checked the production site and Johnnie Hall showed him his plantation.
The family run Agricola Los Medanos is located in the plains of Ica, about 300 kilometers south of the capital Lima. The plantations are located near Nazca, known for the so-called 'Nazca Lines'. These are vast drawings in the desert, which belong to the World Cultural Heritage.
Normally, Biotropic GmbH obtains its pomegranates from Turkey and Spain, depending on the season. But despite the drought, Peru has many fertile areas near rivers and fountains. Hall's pomegranates get an ample supply of well water. Fortunately, the Halls do not have to deal with water scarcity.
During the day, the average temperature in Ica is 30 degrees Celsius, at night it is a mild 20 degrees. The difference in temperature is important because only then does the pomegranate turn red. This points to the fact that the colour of the outer shell says little about the ripeness of this fruit, but more about the variety of pomegranate. A good and dry climate is also beneficial for growing the -otherwise rather undemanding- organic pomegranates. When there is little moisture in the air, fungal diseases have a harder time of infecting the fruit.
Due to the good conditions, agricultural exports from Peru have multiplied in recent years. Until mid-June, it is the Peruvian season for pomegranates. This is followed by a break, and then the season starts up again in October, with fruit from Spain, Turkey and Italy.
Import and distribution
For more than 20 years, Biotropic GmbH has been one of the most important specialists for the worldwide import and distribution of organically grown fruits and vegetables. In addition to their head office with its own banana ripening facility in Duisburg, the trading company has branches in the Netherlands, France, Italy and the Dominican Republic. A specialized team of agricultural engineers is permanently in action and deals with, among other things, assisting the farmers and with quality inspections. Furthermore, the GmbH is constantly trying to expand its product range and services. For example, in the fall a new plant for maturing, sorting and packaging organic mangos was installed.
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