What is now an empty plot of 11 hectares will be turned into a new greenhouse for Moroccan tomato cultivation by Agro Care at the beginning of next year. Construction is currently in full swing. The Dutch tomato growers opt for the construction of a Canary-type greenhouse, as many are found in the Agadir region. However, the greenhouse will be higher and, most notably, truly high-tech inside.
"What we are going to do here is unique," says Stijn Weijns. As Country Director Morocco, he is responsible for all activities of Agro Care in Morocco. "This project should become the blueprint for future expansions."
Erik Jaspers (left) takes a tour of the plot where construction will take place.
Agro Care works in Morocco with its own cultivation and with local growers. The company wants to grow to 100 hectares of its own and 100 hectares of cultivation by partner growers in the coming years. For the upcoming season, the expectation is a 50-50 ratio, with 50 hectares of their own cultivation and 50 hectares of cultivation by partner growers. "We want to grow simultaneously. This construction is an important step for us, but we also hope to inspire growers in the region."
The Canarian greenhouse that Agro Care is building is 7 meters high and will be equipped with mechanical ridge ventilation. The greenhouse is 1 meter higher than the company's current greenhouses in Morocco. "This way there is more space above the crop to achieve a good climate buffer. On top of that, the mechanical ventilation provides more ventilation."
View into Agro Care's existing cultivation in Morocco
A taller greenhouse filled with modern technology
The greater height of the greenhouse will stand out when the plants go into the greenhouse in week 10, according to the plan. However, when it comes to the layout of the greenhouse, Agro Care is making big strides for Moroccan-protected cropping. Stijn lists that there will be steel cultivation gutters, with drain water circulation, a pipe rail system with pipe rail carts, automatic internal transport, and sensors linked to a cultivation computer that provides data for the Source dashboards.
"We do all this because we expect 20 percent more yield thanks to optimal cultivation conditions and a higher plant density. At the same time, we especially want to be careful with the use of water since it is scarce. We expect to use 30 percent less water per kilo of tomato. This is our own ambition, but the requirements of retailers are also becoming stricter."
Agro Care is SPRING-certified. This stands for Sustainable Program for Irrigation and Groundwater Use and is an addition to GlobalGAP. "We expect that SPRING will make drain water recirculation a requirement, and we are already anticipating this."
This is what the new greenhouse will look like from the inside. Click here for enlargement.
Year-round snack tomatoes from Morocco
But first, the greenhouse must be completed. For construction, Agro Care works a lot with Dutch companies. For example, a Dutch contractor has been hired to lay the ground to prepare it for the arrival of cultivation gutters. "With the type of greenhouse we are building, you cannot hang the gutters on the greenhouse construction," Stijn explains.
The expectation is that after planting in week 10, the new location will go into production in week 17. Agro Care sees year-round opportunities for snack tomatoes with cultivation from Morocco, also because the acreage in, for example, the Netherlands has significantly decreased. "We are already growing snack tomatoes year-round in Morocco."
Erik Jaspers is the Operational Director in Morocco
This is what it's all about; tomatoes