Pilar do Sul, a town about 150 kilometers from São Paulo, has become known among renowned chefs as the only producers of wasabi in the country, considered a Japanese delicacy even in its country of origin. The grower family is known as the Abuno family.
Currently, the family, which created the Minato Wasabi brand, produces only seven kilos per month of the plant known as Wasabi japonica, which grows naturally on the banks of rivers in countries such as China, Taiwan, Korea, New Zealand, and Japan. But now, they believe it is possible to turn this game around. With an investment of R$ 650,000 made by the venture builder WBGI, the estimate is that the production will jump to 60 kilos of wasabi per month by the end of 2023. The investment is unprecedented in the country.
The investment is being managed by agricultural engineer Vinícius Shizuo Abuno. Vinícius says that part of the investment is being employed in the construction of a new greenhouse, which he calls a biofactory. The production process - he does not show the agronomic details - works as a protected, controlled, and automated cultivation system.
"The cultivation is done in water, which elevates the quality and flavor of the product, which takes a year and a half to be ready for consumption," says Vinícius. The task is a challenge not only for Minato. Worldwide, production on a commercial scale requires sophisticated agronomic techniques because of the climatic characteristics necessary for the development of the plant.