How it all started
Most Brazilian melons are grown in the northeastern states of Rio Grande do Norte and Ceará. Compared to the total area of 18,800 ha under cultivation in Brazil, these two states account for 16,300 ha. Melons are an important factor in the economy of the northeast, accounting directly or indirectly for thousands of jobs, and generating annual revenues of 307 million Reais (nearly 150 million USD). Melons are grown for both domestic consumption and export. Those melons exported to the EU need to fulfill strict quality, traceability, and coloration standards. Their cultivation has to comply with good agricultural practices to ensure that no residue exceedance, waste, or safety issues occur. Simultaneously, the demands of international certification schemes such as GLOBALG.A.P. and The Nature Conservancy (TNC) also have to be met.
As a supplier of innovative solutions to Mata Fresca, Bayer CropScience proposed in 2007 to start out a project in order to improve the quality of melons offered on the domestic market. The two companies jointly developed the plan for Bayer CropScience’s program called “More Quality Program” to support the local fresh fruit producers.
Antonio Domingos Duarte (left, Sales Manager of Bayer CropScience Brazil), Paulo José O’Grady Cabral (right, Director of Mata Fresca)
Who is involved
Mata Fresca Ltda., a 3,500 ha fresh fruit producer in this region of Brazil, was growing melons on around 1,000 ha of its land in 2012. Half of the crop was destined for export and half for the domestic market. The owner of the Mata Fresca farm, Paulo José O’Grady Cabral, and dedicated field, quality, and commercial staff are directly involved in the More Quality program, to be trained in depth in order to put it into practice in their operations.
Ceagesp, a Brazilian hub for the wholesale of fruits and vegetables to the domestic market supplying all the states in the country, has also played an important role in the program, in particular through monitoring the fruit, conducting analyses, and issuing reports on the cargo when it arrives at its respective destination.
Bayer CropScience Brazil has provided differentiated technical assistance to raise quality standards, helped in monitoring cargoes to increase the transparency of producer-wholesaler relations, offered fruit-sealing advice to ensure product identification and traceability, and helped to promote the sealed fruit through media activities and tasting sessions at points of sale with its “More Quality Program.” Bayer CropScience’s seed business, commercializing seeds under the Nunhems® brand, has supplied the variety Amaregal, which fits the needs of the producers.