One of the main products when talking about exports in Ceará, the melon goes through a recovery period. After years of successive droughts in the State, which damaged reservoirs and areas such as the irrigated perimeter of Tabuleiro de Russas, the good rains in the first half of 2020, together with the transposition of the São Francisco River, are an opportunity to strengthen the sector in the State. In the first quarter of 2020, the melon led the Brazilian fruit exports, with more than 75 thousand tons shipped, generating income of almost US $ 44 million.
In 2019, melons accounted for 67% of the state's fruit exports. Regarding the comparison of Ceará in relation to Rio Grande do Norte, today the main fruit producer in Brazil, Silvio Carlos Ribeiro, executive secretary of agribusiness of the Secretariat for Economic Development and Labor (Sedet), highlights that the neighboring state has good areas groundwater, which helped to maintain the level of production even with low rainfall.
Compared to 2019, however, Ceará has been growing, with melon exports more than doubling compared to last year. In the first half of 2019, the figure was $ 6 million, compared to $ 14 million in 2020. Up to August this year, more than US $ 23 million has been handled. One of the reasons for such growth, points out Silvio, is the reduction of European production. “Spain asked for a lot of melon. It produces it, but this pandemic period was very strong and the workforce was reduced, the area was reduced, production was reduced and they had to buy from somewhere. It was a doubt that the local producers had, but it was a surprise ”, he comments.
Silvio also highlights, as one of the potentialities of the State, Porto do Pecém. As it is a piece of equipment that holds a large volume of containers and large ships, exports by sea also become attractive if products from other states pass through Ceará.
In the beginning of 2020, the expectation for an export partnership with China left producers in the sector anxious for new business possibilities. In 2017 alone, China consumed 17 million tonnes of the fruit. Due to the pandemic period of the new coronavirus, exports were postponed. According to Carlo Porro, CEO of Agrícola Famosa, a company with operations in Ceará and Rio Grande do Norte, and the largest producer and exporter of melons in Brazil, the shipment to the Asian country should be consolidated next October. The company's first cargo this year to Europe and the Middle East was carried out at the end of August.
Across Brazil, 20,000 hectares are currently used for planting melons. If the partnership with China is consolidated, the expectation is that this value may double. In comparison, the Asian country has an area of 430 thousand hectares dedicated to the cultivation of fruit. Regarding this possibility of growth, Silvio Carlos reports that the producing municipalities would expand the planting areas, in addition to exchanging crops for other fruits.
Regarding the possibility of generating jobs, the executive secretary explains that the melon produced in Brazil creates about one to one and a half jobs per hectare. “If we install 10,000 new hectares, it is a dream, but it can happen, we would have 10,000 jobs. But if there are two thousand jobs, it is also a very good generation, because it is quality employment, it pays better than an industry, it has its social function, it generates wealth for the city, it leaves the Metropolitan Region of Fortaleza. ”
At Agrícola Famosa, melons are responsible for 80% of the company's production. For 2020, the profit expectation is R $ 700 million, with an increase of 15% in relation to the previous harvest, if the new markets are consolidated. “The demand for healthy food has increased and mainly for products that have promoted the hydration of the body”, comments Carlo Porro.
For Luiz Roberto Barcelos, founding partner of Agrícola Famosa and institutional director of the Brazilian Association of Fruit and Fruit Exporting Producers (Abrafrutas), the potential is clear, but the logistical challenges need to be carefully investigated, due to the distance between Ceará and China . "They consume a lot of fruit, there is a cold period when local production falls, and we hope that our melons will arrive in good quality."
Source: TrendsCE / Hamlet Oliveira