According to the city hall of Marialva in the southern Brazilian state of Paraná, local grape production accounts for 50 per cent of the total grape harvest in the state. Known as the fine grape capital of the country, in recent years the city has gained recognition for producing sweet, superior-quality grapes. This perception has increased demand and added value to the product, and as a result ensured more income for the growers.
One of the reasons for this achievement is the fact that 380 grape producers in Marialva participate in Bayer CropScience’s More Quality programme, the main purpose of which is to help growers to produce better-quality fruit. Marialva is also known as the fine grape capital due to its major production volume, but in the past this title was not associated with the quality of the grapes that were produced. Unfortunately, the city actually had a reputation for selling sour grapes, since the growers would often harvest too early, hindering the sweetness of the fruit. Because of this the grapes had a small market share and were not valued.
With the introduction of the Green Grape Act in 2005, the city’s fortunes began to change. The municipal law now requires that table grapes produced in the area meet a minimum quality standard – specifically, they must have a sugar content of at least 13°Brix (which is a measure of the sweetness of the fruit).
To ensure compliance, the National Health Surveillance Agency, the Municipal Agriculture Department and the Paraná Institute of Technical Assistance and Rural Extension started inspecting trading posts, vineyards and trade centres. Today, any produce that does not meet these requirements ends up being discarded. Under this new scenario, Bayer CropScience, through the More Quality programme, has offered technical subsidies in order to assist producers and help them to achieve a top-quality product which thereby complies with the updated law.
The scheme aims to obtain higher-quality fruit and is based on the proper and safe use of Bayer CropScience products as well as providing growers with specialised technical assistance. Supply chain integration is at the core of the initiative since everyone depends on each other in order for all involved to achieve good results.
The growers must adopt specific techniques to achieve high-quality fruit, which includes, for example, using products of good provenance and monitoring the crop continuously. More Quality participants can also rely on the specialised technical support offered by the Bayer CropScience team and by the distributors in their distribution network. Furthermore, they are also provided with differentiated assistance, training and regular information on the fruit market.
Wholesalers and retailers, meanwhile, must train the teams responsible for selling the fruit to preserve the produce that is received. After all this care and attention the product reaches the consumer with an identification tag that states the quality of the fruit.
Through the More Quality scheme, the average Brix of grapes produced in Marialva rose from nine to 14, and even as high as 16. With the improved fruit quality, wine producers have reached greater profits and new markets have become interested in the production. On that note, I often say that the city’s history can be divided into two parts: before and after the More Quality scheme.
Ademir is the fruit and vegetable manager for Bayer CropScience in southern Brazil
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