In a few years, sweet potatoes have become a hot item on the European market. The United States, Spain, Egypt and also on the domestic market try to get a share of this popular product from many growers. Morocco is a country where this sweet potato growing is mainly a local matter, but AGF Fresh's Ton de Leeuw is now trying to change that. The first large trial with 12,500 plants in the Agadir region was successful and the Dutchman is now faced with the up scaling the Moroccan production.
Ton de Leeuw
"In Morocco, sweet potatoes are only grown on a very small scale for the local market, but the country offers enormous potential. We grow the well-known orange-fleshed North American varieties and they thrive in Moroccan soil. The advantage is that people are accustomed to irrigation, so people are not dependent on rainfall. In addition, employees are relatively cheap for this labor-intensive cultivation. Transport to the Netherlands is simply possible by truck.
"But all that glisters is not gold," continues the Dutchman, who has been mainly working from Morocco in recent months. "It is just a challenge to start up something new in Morocco. Fortunately, I have found a good adviser. Because to work with the other parties; knowledge of the local market is very important. You have an incredible amount to figure out. Fortunately, we have started the harvest well."
"Thanks to cooperation with a Moroccan cooperative, we have about 5 hectares of sweet potatoes available every month from May next year. The advantage is that you can plant at least nine months of the year in Morocco. Only during the winter months is production is somewhat difficult. "But even then, as long as it stays frost-free, you can continue to harvest product as usual. The country has an ideal location, given the latitude and day and night lengths for growing sweet potatoes," says Ton.
The project has already attracted interest from Moroccan TV
The first trail consisted of 12.500 plants, which gave an average of 1.6 kilos of product per plant. Ton wants to grow towards 40,000 plants per hectare in the coming years. "The potential is there. With regards to sales I want to focus first and foremost on the Dutch importers, they are already showing a lot of interest. The first container has been sold in no time. From a technical point of view, Moroccan sweet potatoes are in line with the Egyptian product. Well, we have been making significant investments lately. If parties are interested in co-investing and guaranteeing high quality Moroccan products, there are definitely opportunities here! "
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