For the Spanish Minister of Agriculture, Food and Environment, Miguel Arias Cañete, Primaflor is an example of what needs to be done: support local products and create jobs in rural areas, especially when that also brings technological development and innovation. This was stated by the Minister during the visit to a plant the company owns in the town of Las Canalejas.
"For me," declared Arias Cañete, "it has been a true pleasure to make this visit, because the fruit and vegetable sector is one of the most innovative, with companies like this one, which has been able to develop a very wide range of products and to process and transform that product to make it available for consumers."
After his visit to Primaflor's ready-made salads factory, and accompanied by its president, Lorenzo Belmonte, the Government's Delegate in Andalusia, Carmen Crespo, and Gabriel Amat, president of the General Council of the Province of Almeria, as well as mayors and entrepreneurs from the area, the Minister pointed out that, "the Spanish agricultural sector has a leading position in terms of exports, with a positive commercial balance. We are the world's eighth largest exporter of agricultural products and projects like Primaflor's have promoted innovation and helped in the development of new ranges of products. This company generates plenty of employment, has impeccable hygiene regulations, processes products with the most sophisticated technology and is an example of what needs to be done in our country to conquer, not just the domestic market, but the entire export market."
The companies Primaflor and New Growing Systems have developed a new mobile cultivation system which can quadruple production volumes compared to land cultivation, as it takes maximum advantage of the greenhouse space, making it possible for the full plant's cycle to complete inside.
The facilities where this new system has been implanted are located in two high-tech greenhouses with a total of two hectares. What is new about these facilities, where Pack Choi and Baby Leaf are grown, is that it is a mobile system, with the cultivation taking place in trays with an automatic transport system. This way, the crop keeps moving from the planting to the harvesting area.
Another innovation is that the Baby Leaf trays go rapidly through a cutting and harvesting area. After being cut, the plant goes back to the beginning of the cycle, where it grows again in the same tray, so that it can complete up to 3 to 5 cycles, depending on the variety. Both greenhouses have a new temperature, moisture and air regulation system, making it possible to produce all year round maintaining the ideal conditions for the plant and ensuring a longer shelf life and a better quality. Another advantage, as explained by Primaflor's executives to the Minister, is that the new technology entails a great saving of water and fertilisers, as irrigation is carried out by means of a closed circuit able to recycle and reuse water.
Primaflor's ready-made salads factory finished the 2012/2013 campaign with a production of 11 million kilos, which is a 10% increase compared to the previous one. 60% is devoted to distribution, while another 30% goes to hospitality and catering and the final 10% to wholesaler markets. These sales account for 30% of the company's total revenue.
Arias Cañete also talked during his visit about the European Union's Common Agricultural Policy and the demands from agricultural organisations for a fairer allocation of public funds. The Minister pointed out that, "these were nothing but demagogic, short-sighted petitions. I am working to make this country's agriculture more competitive, so that funding can become a secondary issue. We cannot watch the sky in case it rains or look towards Brussels in case funds come our way. The fruit, vegetable and pig sectors, which have no extra funding, are the ones taking the lead in terms of added value."
"In Spain," added the Minister, "there are two kinds of agriculture. On the one hand, that which is burdened by high production costs and very low prices, working to the limit. European funds help these growers survive. On the other hand, there is another one which is much more market-oriented, which obtains its returns from the market and which has the security, with or without a common agricultural policy, that it will be profitable."