Grapa Varieties has announced the opening of a new agency in Morocco following the success of last season's production of Arra and Early Sweet varieties in the country.
According to Rafe Shabaily, managing director of Moroccan grower-marketer Les Vergers du Soleil, Arra varieties like Passion Fire and Sugar Drop have huge future potential.
“The Arra Passion Fire looks absolutely amazing, with a good berry size and a very appealing, vibrant red,” he said. “Last year, we had some good fortune with the weather conditions with the max-min amplitude often around 25°C, which helps enormously in coloration. A consistent, red seedless that performs year in, year out is a kind of Holy Grail in Morocco. If this variety produces similar results in the coming season, then we have a winner."
Regarding the Arra Sugar Drop, Shabaily explained: “The product looks great, eating quality is absolutely fantastic – crunchy and sweet, with a pleasant amount of acidity. We have pulled numerous samples from the tunnels, and there are no signs of marks or browning."
This year, Les Vergers du Soleil's crop of Early Sweet is expected to be harvested at the very end of May or start of June, depending on the weather conditions.
According to the company, the season is so far going well and looks promising, in spite of the restrictions put in place by the government due to Covid-19, with the whole country in lockdown conditions initially until 20 May.
"The restrictions have meant some very aggressive decisions during flowering,” said Shabaily, “as we are far from our usual number of personnel, as only those who live close to the farm are able to travel to work, with the rest blocked by the authorities.”
Moroccan producer-exporter Delassus Group also sees the potential of Arra Passion Fire. “We have many Arra varieties under trial giving very good results,” said commercial and marketing director Fatiha Charrat. “We are excited to start exporting Arra Passion Fire, one of the most desired red seedless varieties in the world.
"Working with Grapa gives us confidence. As well as being highly professional in the R&D field, they also have a strong marketing ability. Our customers already know all about Arra varieties so we don’t really need to present them. Delassus Group decided recently to extend its grape farms by introducing new red and black varieties. Arra varieties have a very promising collection and we have introduced some of the varieties to test their adaptation."
The new Moroccan agency is set to be headed by Mikhael Levy, who has more than fifteen years’ experience in the Moroccan agriculture industry.
“In response to last season's success of the Arra and Early Sweet varieties, we have opened the agency to guide and support the growers in reaching the varieties' full potential in the region,” said Rafi Karniel, CEO of Grapa Varieties. “I am delighted to welcome my old friend Mikhael to the team and have every confidence that he will play a major role in the continued success of the Arra and Early Sweet varieties in Morocco. At this opportunity I would like to wish success to our licensees for the coming season in Morocco and greet them with our best wishes for Ramadan."