Society sets new trends and changes in consumer tastes, and now, more than ever, it is essential that companies, institutions and the administration work together to offer agricultural producers alternative crops with chances of success in the market. This is absolutely necessary to continue promoting the sector.
Diversification is laying the foundations for the future of agriculture, and this is where research and development departments play their part, using their experience to evaluate profitable options whose production complies with as many sustainability parameters as possible.
In Almeria, the agro-food cooperative Anecoop runs the UAL-Anecoop Experimental Farm in La Cañada de San Urbano, which is specialized in greenhouse production. It belongs to the University of Almeria-Anecoop Foundation and is home to part of the technical team of its Production and Development department. In it, it looks for new products that can offer a competitive advantage, assessing their potential to adapt to the cultivation areas of its partners, comparing them at an agronomic and commercial level with current products and crops and offering support and technical advice in the development of projects: crop management, adaptability to the plots of the partners or adaptation to market needs.
It also looks into aspects related to environmental issues of concern to society, such as minimizing the use of water and chemical synthesis materials in production, or the search for varieties that are more resistant to drought and disease.
Pitahaya, or Dragon Fruit, is one of the crops that have aroused the most interest in recent years. Anecoop began research in 2012 by selecting, together with several customers, a group of varieties that, due to their productivity and quality, were suitable to be part of the production program. Afterwards, these were transferred to the producers participating in the project. The current production program includes five varieties, although there are many more under study, as well as new crop management trials.
The trials of new varieties and crop management, as well as the calendar extension studies, are carried out at the UAL-Anecoop Foundation. The research program features 65 varieties and there are six hectares available for cultivation, with growth prospects. Dragon fruit has great potential to attract consumption because of its exotic and attractive appearance, as well as its nutritional qualities; something that consumers, eager for novelties, know how to appreciate. It is a fruit with plenty of water and few calories that also stands out for its high fiber content.
It contains vitamin C, which has antioxidant properties and helps strengthen the immune system, and also an interesting amount of potassium; a mineral that is involved in muscle contraction processes, making it ideal for sports.
Through its "Raciones de Vida para el Campo" initiative, and together with its partners in Almería, Coprohníjar, Hortamar, Agroiris, Albentillas, Hortofrutícola Costa de Almería and Tomasol, Anecoop is strongly committed to the development and launch of new projects, and is working to protect the continuity of agricultural activities, facilitate the incorporation of young people into the sector and defend the rural environment. Anecoop is sowing the future.