The fruit needs high temperatures during the day and low temperatures at night, which is why it is ideal for places like Imbabura or Guayllabamba. The kilo is quoted at $ 12, a plant produces up to 1,500 grams. It is a perennial crop.
Producers, university students, teachers and businessmen participate today in the International Seminar on the Production and Export of Blueberries in Quito, organized by the consulting company Global Forum.
The growing demand for this fruit in Ecuador caused investors to focus on a product that, besides being quite profitable, has extensive nutritional characteristics that benefit health. So much so that the cultivation of blueberries in the country has increased by 100% over the past two years, according to Patricio Ñacato, manager of Ecuarándano, the pioneer company in the production of fruit in the country.
Given this, Sebastián Muñoz, manager of Global Forum, said that the study of aspects such as planting, cultivation, pruning and understanding the behavior of the markets of this fruit becomes indispensable for producers and entrepreneurs looking to start with the business that barely start.
Patricio Ñacato explained that production began in 2015 with the acquisition of plants for testing, of the Biloxi variety, brought from the United States. Once they verified that the blueberries were adapted to the Ecuadorian climate and soil, they went to the second phase, the multiplication of the plants and then the promotion phase of the crop between producers.
During this process, the agronomic management of the plant was meticulous to adapt it to the conditions of the environment. Cranberry is a species native to the northern and southern hemispheres, but when located on the equatorial line, the influence of luminosity made the fruit have better characteristics
The profitability favors the producers
The high sale price and the still little offer make that the cultivation of this fruit is quite profitable for the entrepreneurs. Although the initial investment is around $ 40,000 per hectare, the amount is recovered in the first year.
It covers the cost of plants and infrastructure (soil conditioning or greenhouse implementation, irrigation systems, etc.). In the first year of life, each plant produces around 800 grams (g) of fruit. Then, from the second, the production will rise to 1,500 g.
Currently, the value per kilogram of cranberry is around $ 12. Ñacato indicated that since it is a relatively new fruit in the country, and with considerable demand, all the production is sold.
Another favorable aspect is the strength of the species. Cranberry is a wild variety, which requires high temperatures during the day, and low temperatures during the night. Therefore, sectors such as Guayllabamba, Yaruquí and parts of Imbabura are suitable for adaptation.
Pedro Ibarra, farmer and worker of Ecuarán, explained that the main thing is observation. “This allows us to determine the growth of a plant and identify diseases, pests, its way of behaving. This is what we did in these years. ” Not being an intensive crop, no pests or diseases that affect production were detected.
The important thing, according to Ibarra, is the preparation of the soil, which must be loose. Also, it does not tolerate puddles or areas with permanent rain. The fertilization of the plant must be constant, but it does not need expensive fertilizers.
A mixture of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium is basic and must be supplied by means of irrigation, preferably by dripping, to optimize resources. The climatic conditions allow the fruit to grow throughout the year.
Producers explain that this aspect will be highly beneficial when the production reaches export levels, because it will allow us to reach international markets that cannot be covered by the United States, Chile or Peru, due to the climatic seasonality. At present, the crop is programmed through the pruning of the plants, to order the production. (I)