Agro Care is developing an 11-hectare plot into an advanced tomato greenhouse in Morocco, drawing inspiration from the Canarian model in the Agadir region. The modified Canary-type greenhouse, taller and technologically advanced, is a pioneering project expected to be completed early next year. Stijn Weijns, the Country Director for Morocco, sees it as a blueprint for future expansions. The company is actively expanding in Morocco, aiming for 100 hectares under its ownership and an additional 100 hectares through partnerships. With a 50-50 ratio for the upcoming season, Agro Care emphasizes coordinated growth. The 7-meter tall Canarian greenhouse, equipped with mechanical ridge ventilation, signifies a significant milestone, providing increased space and optimal climate control. Agro Care aims to inspire local growers with these advancements, showcasing their commitment to advanced and efficient agricultural practices.
The upcoming introduction of plants into the greenhouse during week 10 will showcase the remarkable height of Agro Care’s innovative structure. Beyond its physical dimensions, the greenhouse’s layout represents a significant leap forward for protected cropping in Morocco. Agro Care is implementing advanced features, including steel cultivation gutters with drain water circulation, a pipe rail system with accompanying carts, automated internal transport, and sensors integrated with a cultivation computer that feeds data to the Source dashboards.
The purpose of these advancements is to create optimal cultivation conditions and achieve a higher plant density, with the expectation of a 20 percent increase in yield. Additionally, the company is emphasizing water conservation, a critical consideration given its scarcity in the region. Agro Care anticipates a 30 percent reduction in water usage per kilogram of tomatoes, aligning with both their internal sustainability goals and the increasingly stringent requirements set by retailers.
It’s noteworthy that Agro Care holds SPRING certification, signifying compliance with the Sustainable Program for Irrigation and Groundwater Use, an additional standard to GlobalGAP. Anticipating future industry trends, Agro Care is preparing for potential requirements related to drain water recirculation, demonstrating their proactive approach to sustainable practices in agriculture.
Before diving into year-round production of snack tomatoes in Morocco, the completion of the greenhouse is paramount. Agro Care is actively engaging Dutch companies in the construction process, exemplified by the collaboration with a Dutch contractor responsible for preparing the ground to accommodate cultivation gutters. Stijn clarifies that the specific greenhouse design necessitates an alternative approach, ruling out the conventional hanging of gutters on the greenhouse structure.
Anticipating a production launch in week 17 following the planting scheduled for week 10, Agro Care envisions promising year-round prospects for snack tomatoes in Morocco. This strategic move is underscored by the decline in acreage dedicated to such crops in traditional regions like the Netherlands. Notably, Agro Care is already successfully cultivating snack tomatoes year-round in Morocco, positioning itself as a reliable and sustainable source for this popular produce.