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Japanese greenhouse grower Kagome sees opportunities in China
"After three years of test production, we established a new company in China last year which is an agri joint-venture," said Kagome's Satoshi Harada. "We are growing greenhouse tomatoes for the premium market in a 2 hectare Venlo greenhouse, equipped with the latest technology. Besides this greenhouse we have another Chinese solar house."
Packing facility of Kagome in Japan
The new Chinese greenhouse operation of Kagome is located near Yinchuan, in the Ningsia Hui Autonomous Region. As the company targets their produce towards the rising amount of metropolitan consumers with a high income, Kagome definitely expects to see an increase in the demand for their product. There are more and more Chinese middle class consumers who are willing to spend more on their food, they demand premium products, which creates a good opportunity for high end greenhouse production. "After three years of test production we have decided to break ground for this commercial greenhouse, and another one is scheduled to be built in the future. We will cultivate several kinds of tomato varieties, followed by cucumber and lettuce."
Kagome growers in one of their Japanese greenhouses
Despite the fact that greenhouse operations at Kagome have no plans to expand in other Asian countries at present, the Kagome group is expanding their facilities in the processed tomato industry in Australia, Portugal, and more recently in India.
In regards to greenhouse horticulture, Kagome Japan has around 55 hectare of modern Venlo type greenhouses including their contract growers. Next to this, there are also smaller Japanese contract growers with a total acreage of 30 hectares. Just like in the greenhouses in China, Kagome takes advantage of modern production technologies and uses high end facilities. They grow almost 80 % of their hydroponic crops on Riococo coir slabs.
The Japanese grower sells all of their harvest to a wide range of customers that demand the latests innovations in varieties. "As always we need to trial new varieties and we also have our own breeding program to develop our own tomato breeds. Every year we evaluate more than 100 varieties."
"Looking back on last season we can say that it was reasonable," said Kagome's Harada. "Thanks to the reasonable radiation, almost all of our greenhouse farms were able to achieve a high amount of kilos per square meter. This was very hard in the beginning, as the summers in Japan are very hot and long lasting, so the start of the crop was not easy. But still we did a good job if you compare our results with the production of other Japanese growers. Thanks to the combination of dedicated technology, knowledge and the right substrate, we achieved good results"
Kagome is now in the middle of their production as they have several planting schedules. The growers started picking the first crops in November. Harada: "At this moment the radiation in Japan is recovering and our production per square meter has started to increase. We hope that we will have another good year, with good production, and above all, a very good quality harvest."
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