The cooperatives of the Murcian municipality of Cieza hope to market more than 5 million kilos of kaki this year. Despite not being produced on a large scale in the Vega Alta, this fruit generates more than 250 jobs in the region for three months, as the kaki cultivated in other Spanish areas that have greater water resources, such as Valencia, is transported to Cieza and then exported to all of Europe.
One of the cooperatives that work with this fruit these days is La Vega de Cieza, which expects to sell more than 2 million kilos. The kaki is brought to the cooperative in bulk within large containers and then it is sorted and packed according to size. "Kaki must be subjected to a process that uses high concentrations of CO₂, which produces an accumulation of acetaldehyde and a reaction that eliminates its astringency," stated Santiago Vazquez, the commercial director of this cooperative.
"We'll process about 40 tons of kaki per day from mid-September to the end of December when we hope to finish the current campaign," stated Vazquez. "Each year, more than 50 people who come from working in the stone fruit campaign work in our facilities calibrating this variety."
"Some of the partners of La Vega de Cieza cultivate kaki in Valencia and other areas near the east coast because it requires abundant water and less extreme temperatures than the ones in Cieza, where temperatures can be as low as 5 or 6 degrees below zero in some winter mornings," Vasquez stated.
According to Vasquez, the biggest problem of expanding kaki cultivation on a large scale in the region is the lack of water resources because kaki trees require constant irrigation. "They also require soils that do not contain large concentrations of salt, so it would be very questionable to irrigate this crop with desalinated water," he added.