From agronomist to consultant, traveling the world with a passion for berries and a love for sharing knowledge

Jorge Duarte, a seasoned consultant for berry growers, travels globally to share knowledge and help growers find the best solutions for their crops. His approach considers both on-farm practices and broader contexts such as market demands and consumer trends.
In an interview with Italian Berry, Jorge discusses his journey from agronomist to consultant and how his technical expertise evolved into a comprehensive passion for making berry farming profitable and sustainable. He reflects on his 20-year dedication to the industry, starting as a student and farm manager before transitioning to consultancy.
Jorge’s career began with a degree in Agronomy from the University of Algarve, Portugal, followed by years of hands-on experience in Portugal and the Netherlands. Inspired by a colleague, he transitioned to consultancy, quickly gaining recognition in Portugal and beyond.
Initially focusing on strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries, Jorge’s consultancy expanded as he traveled extensively across Europe to deepen his knowledge. He now helps growers worldwide improve their berry farming practices and business strategies.
I realized the need to formalize my consultancy work into a company, leading to the creation of Hortitool Consulting in 2015. Since then, I’ve had the privilege of working as a berry consultant in several countries:
  • 2015: Portugal, Spain
  • 2016: Italy
  • 2018: Morocco
  • 2020: Georgia, Turkey
  • 2021: Egypt, Romania
  • 2022: Austria
  • 2023: Azerbaijan
  • 2024: India
Working internationally as a consultant requires a deep understanding of berry crops at the growing and production levels, as well as a keen insight into the business side. Consultants must manage risks and aid decision-making processes at both agronomic and managerial levels.
While consultants don’t bear the risks of these decisions, they must present all possible scenarios to help growers make informed choices. This approach fosters a close relationship between consultant and grower, akin to teamwork.
I’ve come to see that while both agronomy and management are crucial, agronomy often plays a more significant role in decision-making than management. I often describe this relationship as a marriage, but one where the balance is skewed, with agronomy accounting for 30% and management for 70% of the decision-making process.
Communication and honesty are key skills in this role. Being yourself and using your unique communication style are crucial in maintaining positive client relationships and effectively conveying information.
In the end, my role is about more than just traveling and observing; it’s about bringing valuable insights and information to help farming operations thrive.
Being a consultant is also a risky position, and you need to be prepared as a Olympic athlete…well at least in knowledge and experience.
People often ask me, “How can you travel so much?” The truth is, I probably shouldn’t do it as often. The constant traveling by planes and cars, along with irregular hours, can take a toll on both the body and mind. It’s crucial to prioritize your well-being in such a demanding profession. Your diet and physical activity play a significant role in determining your ability to sustain this lifestyle. Being in good physical and mental shape is essential.
Extended periods of travel can negatively impact your health and personal life, especially if you have a family. Finding a balance is key. Being a berry consultant means being passionate about these fruits—loving to grow and eat them (almost to a fanatic extent), being willing to share knowledge wherever it’s needed, viewing it as a social experience that allows you to learn about the world, making sacrifices (such as forgoing well-being and family time), and having a strong desire to share and transfer knowledge about your passion.
Ultimately, being a successful berry consultant is not just about understanding what the plants “tell you” in the field; it’s also about understanding the growers’ needs for their businesses.





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