The Moroccan Tomato Market - Inverting in Greenhouses
- Written by Green Smile
THE MOROCCAN TOMATO MARKET • INVESTING IN
“Moroccan growers recognise the need to improve the greenhouse structures and no longer extend their acreage”
Interview with Mr. Zahidi, Founder of Green Smile
Green Smile is a Moroccan consulting company that assists professionals in the agricultural sector, informing them about new and innovative products and production techniques. The company’s activities include event management, technical training and marketing.
Last month, Green Smile organised Agriconferences 2011, an international conference on Moroccan tomatoes. Staged in Agadir, this event offered practical advice to professionals interested in choosing new types of greenhouses. Green Smile also took part in Fruit Logistica 2011. Tomatoes Today talked to Mr.
Zahidi, founder of Green Smile, about the company’s participation in both these events and the Moroccan tomato sector in general.
Agriconferences 2011: Greenhouse production
Q. Green Smile organised Agriconferences 2011 in Agadir. What is your assessment of the event? Were expectations of the conference fulfilled?
A. Agriconferences 2011 had the support of the growers’ association APEFEL and was a great success in terms of the number of participants (around 300 people). Furthermore, more than 80% of those attending were from the world
of production. Influential production companies were interested in the programme and sent their technical staff to take part in the conference. Companies such as Agrisouss, Duroc, Soprofel and Copag were present, as well as many
other production companies.
“The objective was to involve greenhouse construction companies, who had the opportunity to present their offerings and make contact with growers”
Q. What were the main objectives of this year’s Agriconferences?
A. Agriconferences 2011 aimed to respond to the needs of Moroccan growers, who are interested in the new types of greenhouses available and in learning more about topics such as climate control and hydroponics. The objective was to involve greenhouse construction companies, who had the opportunity to present their offerings and make contact with growers. Most of these greenhouse companies are already established in the Moroccan market, while others are among the best in the world.
In order to prepare Agriconferences 2011, we created a committee including some growers in collaboration with the association APEFEL, in order to discuss growers’ problems regarding greenhouses and to examine their needs for the future. This committee’s report was sent to the greenhouse construction companies before the conference
Q. Why is it so important for Moroccan tomato growers to learn about new types of greenhouses and advanced production techniques?
A. Greenhouse cultivation in Morocco is at a turning point and improving greenhouse structures is a key concern.
Moroccan growers need to improve their greenhouse structures and production techniques in order to satisfy the export market. Growers are aware of the situation, and this is why there were so many participants at the conference.
They do not always have time to read and consider the future of their industry, so a day of study at Agriconferences encourages them to think about their strategy for the future.
Q. What can tomato growers in Morocco do in order to improve their greenhouses?
A. They have 2 opportunities:
Investment in the improved Almería type of greenhouses
Investment in modern multitunnel greenhouses
This investment may require a financial commitment lasting at least 10 years. The Moroccan authorities must become
involved in these improvements by helping growers with the appropriate subsidies. At first, these greenhouse
improvements will be accessible to growers who are able to make the investment. But in general, growers now think
twice before extending their acreage and investing in a larger area. Almost every grower recognises the need to
improve the greenhouse structures and consequently reduce or no longer extend their acreage
The Moroccan tomato market: perspectives and challenges
“Moroccan companies must make the most of their current advantages: salary level and climate”
Q. How can a Moroccan company remain competitive in the European tomato market?
A. Moroccan companies must make the most of the comparative advantages they have at present: salary level and climate. Here, we can produce in winter without using energy (heating). Companies should maintain their assets and focus on quality, in order to guarantee a valuable profit. Growers are in need of some progress with respect to new varieties, in order to attain a higher level of performance. Export companies must focus on quality, and so they need to change to new types of greenhouses..
Q. What are the main challenges faced by Moroccan tomato growers?
A. Moroccan growers will have to intensify their cultivation methods:
Renewable energies. Greenhouses should be more efficient, but avoid the use of fossil energy. A lot of attention needs to be given to renewable energies.
Means of transport. Moroccan growers should continue to develop shipping as an important means of transport, in order to reduce the carbon footprint of Moroccan products.
Integrated Pest Management. Definitively, pests and diseases must be controlled through the use of Integrated Pest Management.
“Moroccan growers need to work on their marketing strategies in order to respond to client needs and to look for new opportunities”
Q. Green Smile also helps agricultural companies with their marketing plans and initiatives. How important is marketing for a Moroccan tomato grower?
A. Like any other product, tomatoes need marketing, and Moroccan growers must bear this in mind as they grow them. The large companies have already taken the appropriate steps in this respect, but every grower must think of their farm as a company that needs marketing and to consider their relationship with clients, partners, suppliers…
And like all other products, a fruit or a vegetable must be marketed in the right way, in order to address the needs of clients and keep up with the market. Ahead of commercial factors, marketing is what makes a business sustainable.
Moroccan growers need to work on their marketing strategies, in order to respond to client needs and to look for new opportunities.
A good marketing strategy lends meaning to the entire production process and this is important in the world of tomato production, a stressful occupation requiring hard work.
Green Smile at Fruit Logistica 2011
“Moroccan growers visit the fair nearly every year to meet their clients and look for new opportunities”
Q. Green Smile also participated in Fruit Logistica 2011. What is your opinion of the trade fair?
A. Fruit Logistica served as an excellent platform for the promotion of Agriconferences 2011. We were able to attract people from Lebanon, Algeria and the Netherlands, among other countries, thanks to the Fruit Logistica Fair. Fruit Logistica has become a key event in the Fruit and Vegetable trade. Moroccan growers visit the fair nearly every year to meet their clients and look for new opportunities.
Q. What did Green Smile offer visitors to Fruit Logistica?
A. Green Smile could be found in the common area at the Moroccan growers’ association stand. Green Smile representatives provided visitors with information about Agriconferences and all the other services that we offer, in particular assistance with business contacts. With our network, it is quite easy for us to help foreign investors make contacts in Morocco.