The high quality of the products and the lower production costs are mentioned as important boosters for the Mexican greenhouse industry. Following last weeks' exhibition, GreenTech Americas, we discuss the developments in the Mexican horticultural industry. Wil Lammers with Ridder, Francisco Alberico with Sustratos Agricolas and Manuel Soto with Paskal share their insights.
Production never stopped
"Greenhouse production has been growing fast in Mexico for the last couple of years. This Covid year was no exception: production never stopped, mainly because of the overdemand created by speculation in the American market," says Francisco Alberico with Sustratos Agricolas.
As a direct number to express this development, he points at the grafted plant nurseries in Mexico. "Since 2019 a small survey on grafted plants was held that stated around 30 million grafted plants were produced in tomato, peppers, and watermelons. The latest info we have on the grafting market estimates around 150 million grafted plants 75% tomatoes, 20% watermelons, and 5% peppers and others." At the same time, organic produce demand is also growing.
Since grafting nurseries need an option to grow in organic ways, there has been a need to substitute rockwool plugs for other materials. To answer this growing market, the company collaborated with INA Plastics. On the show they launched the new Pit-Plug that allows the same operation as the rockwool plug tray but with a peat moss plug with OMRI certificate.
"With this new option we open an opportunity for growers and propagators for high quality plants and organic labeled products," Francisco says. "DTS (Double tray system) of INA Plastics is a well-proven product that optimizes space and transport cost. This collaboration allows us to offer the tray with the rockwool plugs: 240 plugs or 120 assorted plugs.
According to Francisco, it is important for the growing Mexican market to answer the market demand for organic products and become more environmentally friendly at the same time. "The new innovation for growers to take out expanded polystyrene trays. Having different plug alternatives for growers makes operations more environmentally friendly."
Growing market for suppliers
For Manuel Soto with Paskal, the last week has been a busy week. The company was popular at GreenTech Americas and welcomed many distributors and growers. "We are seeing an excellent reactivation of the Mexican agricultural market, especially in protected agriculture," he says.
Paskal is active in many crops of which the popularity is currently on the rise, like tomato, cucumber, pepper, and berries. "The latter with our DrainVision monitoring solution," Manuel says, showing how the DrainVision helps growers improve their irrigation.
He explains that Paskal México continues to grow thanks to the expanding market and also thanks to further growth among existing companies. The company has worked mostly with established distributors in the market, and in recent months new companies that trust the Paskal brand have been incorporated.
"Currently our activity is 60% through distributors and 40% directly to growers. Our commercial activity grows every year, even in 2020, when we had a significant impact from COVID. This is thanks to the great acceptance of our products for their quality and immediate availability," he says. "Growers are looking for solutions to improve their cultivation."
"We help them and continue to generate demand for our product by training growers. Our DrainVision solution for hydroponic irrigation monitoring is being well-accepted thanks to the benefits it offers to growers and thanks to how we as a company continue to support them. Once they see the value working with our products bring, they want to keep doing so."
Better every year
"The Mexican horticultural industry is better every year, more and more technology is present in order to make this business more successful, resulting in better yields, better products, and better numbers," says WiI Lammers with Ridder.
The company, already active in Mexico since 2007, opened an office in Mexico in 2017 and announced participation in a high-tech R&D maize project last week. Besides this maize project, they're involved in many more regular horticultural projects involving greenhouse vegetables and fruits. "The high quality of the products and the lower cost of production are boosters for the Mexican industry," Ruben Soto adds.
He is assured the industry will become more and more efficient - also because they have to. "The lack of workers available is a challenge nowadays, as is the lack of quality irrigation water due to the high level of sodium. Growers are urged to make efficient use of resources in general. Every day is a challenge: how to keep your production standards high with fewer resources."
Technology is the answer
The company has seen its business grow by helping growers with exactly these challenges: they help growers with water treatment (irrigation, UV disinfection, and selective sodium removal), process automation (for integrated climate & irrigation control), and labor-management (every single activity in the greenhouse can be analyzed and make decisions in a very efficient way). "Next to this we also offer mechanical components such as drive systems, which are used to automate the vents and screens in a greenhouse. Our offer is completed with a complete line-up of climate screens, which are used to control the greenhouse climate, steer light levels and facilitate an efficient use of energy," Wil says.
Answering the role investors are playing in the industry and the upscaling taking place, there's also Ridder HortOS: a solution for big data management in large-scale multisite greenhouse operations. "We want to help the investors and growers run their business proactively instead of reactively in real-time. HortOS helps allows large-scale greenhouse organizations to set mutual goals, targets and helps them to safeguard bottom-line results."
All these solutions have one thing in common, Wil says. "We want to help growers with a total solution to cultivate a crop in the most efficient, sustainable, and most profitable way. At the end of the day, maximizing optimal plant control and therefore production output synchronized with market demand is the optimal cash flow generator of any horticulture operation."
"The future of the industry will be more and more efficient. Every single protected crop has to be better and better, technology is the keyword."
For more information:
Biol. Francisco Alberico
Distribuidora de Sustratos Agrícolas SA de CV
Tel: 045 5537224217
Or 55 53104353