As soon as João Paulo Pereira of Portuguese investment firm Inspire Capital finished reading “How ISRAEL21c helped inspire India’s 1st commercial avocado orchard” last September, he emailed us.
“I wonder if you would be so kind helping us contacting Benny Wisse or any other Israeli avocado grower expert. Since we are about to start growing avocado in Portugal, we would like to get their expertise to try to improve common procedures and increase production and quality,” he wrote.
We were happy to connect Pereira, project manager at Inspire.
As a result, he and Inspire Capital Managing Partner Pedro Lopes visited Wisse at Kibbutz Ma’agan in December. Wisse also arranged for Pereira and Lopes to meet with avocado researcher Leo Winer and avocado grower Oren Wallach.
“It proved to be a very useful gathering as we had the opportunity to get not only the scientist point of view but the practical agricultural procedures as well,” Pereira says, noting that Wisse has 45 years of avocado experience.
“Benny Wisse guided us around the Galilee where we could see different plantation techniques from his kibbutz and from the neighboring kibbutzim. Dr. Winer escorted us as well and we had the chance to exchange ideas and to know about his experiences with high-density orchards and pruning protocols.”
Unlike Harshit Godha, the Indian student starting India’s first commercial avocado orchard with the help of Israeli expertise, the Portuguese already have an avocado industry in Algarve. Weather, water and soil conditions in this southwestern coastal region resemble those in Israel’s Galilee, where Kibbutz Ma’agan is located.
Pereira explains that Inspire Capital is fairly new and is focused mainly on aquaculture, agriculture and tourism infrastructure. The avocado plantation, to be called Inspire Farms, will be its first agriculture venture.
“You deserve our profound recognition for the role you play in public service and effectiveness in promoting Israel abroad while helping the worldwide farming community”
“We have acquired an 80-hectare farm in the Algarve region where we plan to start with a 30-hectares avocado orchard,” he tells ISRAEL21c.
“Being newcomers in the business, we always try to get as much information as we can from wherever available data is and mainly from the Internet. We have learned what many Peruvians, South Africans, Colombians and Americans specialists are doing right now, but we decided to get in touch with Israeli experts as we knew about some very high densities experiments conducted by Dr. Winer.
“Then we found ISRAEL21c’s article on how Benny Wisse and Oren Wallach helped to implement the first avocado orchard in India. It happens that Benny is a very good friend of Leo Winer, and it proved to be the perfect connection to get in touch with several Israeli avocado growers.”
Helping the worldwide farming community
Pereira says avocado cultivation is somewhat controversial in Portugal because these trees generally need lots of water. However, agricultural technologies – including many developed in Israel — have solved that problem.
“Using the state-of-art techniques, we can reduce the amount of water to minimum figures not possible some years ago,” he says. “It takes some time to make clear and convince opinion makers to change their beliefs. The truth is that agriculture nowadays is a much more precise and scientific activity.”
He and Lopes also learned about mechanical methods for pruning and harvesting, essential to running a cost-efficient orchard.
“We think that we have big advantages in comparison to South American producers, as our carbon footprint will be immensely less. European customers will appreciate that,” says Pereira. “Pending on outcomes we will then decide whether to expand.”
Next summer, preparations at Inspire Farms will include installing watering and anti-frost systems to be ready for the first planting in September. Wisse is ready to fly over to help them in both stages.
Pereira looks forward to a continued relationship with Israeli experts.
“Again, we wish to thank ISRAEL21c in helping us to get in touch with Benny Wisse and the Israeli avocado specialists. You deserve our profound recognition for the role you play in public service and effectiveness in promoting Israel abroad while helping the worldwide farming community,” concludes Pereira.