Moroccans can expect more options for sweet table grapes as Grapa Varieties prepares to improve the quality of local production.
Rabat – Grapa Varieties, an international grape growing business, announced last week the opening of a new agency in Morocco to support local producers growing its “ARRA” and “Early Sweet” table grape varieties.
Mikhael Levy will serve as the head of the local agency. The Frenchman has over fifteen years of experience in the Moroccan agriculture industry and has worked as a representative for fresh produce importers since 2019.
Grapa’s expansion within Morocco follows the success of last season’s ARRA and Early Sweet grape production. Grapa Varieties CEO Rafi Karniel said, “We have opened the agency to guide and support the growers in reaching the varieties’ full potential in the region.”
Rafe Shabaily, the managing director of Les Vergers du Soleil orchard in Marrakech, described last season’s ARRA “Passion Fire” red grape crops in Morocco as “absolutely amazing,” reported Fresh Plaza, a news outlet focused on produce.
“We had some good fortune with the weather conditions … which helps enormously in coloration. A consistent, red seedless [grape] that performs year in year out is a kind of Holy Grail in Morocco. If this variety produces similar results next season then we have a winner,” he continued.
Delassus Group, another Moroccan producer and exporter of grapes, believes the ARRA Passion Fire is an exceptional red grape variety well-suited for the region. Fatiha Charrat, the commercial and marketing director of the group, said they are “excited to start exporting ARRA Passion Fire, one of the new most desired red, seedless varieties in the world.”
Meanwhile, the ARRA “Sugar Drop” variety also had a “fantastic” season, continued Rabe.
“Our initial feelings were very positive. Not even the slightest sign of a trace seed and can be confidently labeled seedless. We have pulled numerous samples from the tunnels and no signs of marks or browning. In fact, the product looks great, eating quality is absolutely fantastic—crunchy, sweet with a pleasant amount of acidity,” he said.
In addition to the ARRA varieties, the Early Sweet table grapes are also doing well and are becoming a popular variety among Moroccan producers. This year, Les Vergers du Soleil is set to harvest its crop of Early Sweet table grapes at the end of May or the beginning of June, depending on weather conditions.
Although the grape season in Morocco looks promising so far, growers are facing challenges due to COVID-19 restrictions and the lockdown, effective until May 20.
“The restrictions have meant some very aggressive decisions during flowering 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, the rest are blocked by the authorities,” Rafe said.
Les Verges du Soleil is hopeful COVID-19 restrictions will ease as scheduled to accommodate the beginning of the harvest in the last week of May.
MOROCCOWORLDNEWS.COM | Morgan Hekking
May 11, 2020