Spain: New experimental farm in Lepe

The new experimental farm that Onubafruit has in the municipality of Lepe was officially inaugurated this Tuesday. The event was attended by representatives of the trader, of its five associated cooperatives (Cobella, Cartayfres, Freslucena, SAT Condado and Costa de Huelva) and by local and provincial authorities, such as the mayor of Lepe, Juan Manuel González, and the territorial delegate of Agriculture, Fisheries and Rural Development, Pedro Pascual Hernández.

The president of Onubafruit, Antonio Tirado, highlighted what a great milestone it is to set up an experimental farm of these characteristics, with innovation at its core, "because this is where we may manage to develop the berry varieties that will help us stand out from the rest and differentiate ourselves in the market, managing at the same time to improve our image and meet the needs of our customers. It can also help improve the profitability of our production."

José María Contreras, manager of SAT Condado, highlighted the need to find "new varieties with a good taste and the capacity to endure long distance shipments. We must not forget that in the case of raspberries and blueberries, 90% of the production goes to foreign markets."

The president of Cartayfres, Juan Pereles Aguilar, also stressed that "innovation is what helps us remain afloat and what sets the way for the grower, because if we fall behind, there is nothing for us to do. Competition is fierce; the markets demand new varieties and that is just what we have to deliver."

The new experimental farm has 4 and a half hectares. This acreage will be used "to research the future of berries. We are talking about strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, blueberries, currants, kiwiberries or thorn grape, and we will research new varieties, cultivation methods and different types of fertilizers or irrigation methods," says the manager of Onubafruit, Francisco Sánchez.

In addition to berries, Onubafruit's new experimental farm will study the possible behaviour and development of other crops, such as kakis, avocados, mangoes or papayas. Sánchez clarifies that "this is not an exclusionary test field, but quite the opposite. Anything new that may be of interest to our producers will be tested here; that's why we also carrying out tests in other parts of the world with companies or universities."

One of the differences of this experimental farm compared to others run by Onubafruit is that the crops won't be grown hydroponically, but in soil "under similar conditions to those of the field, simulating the real conditions and the real problems that the producer is going to face," points out Sánchez.


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