The Volcan Agropark

02 Jun, 2017

The following is an automatic translation of an article originally published in Spanish on La Prensa on Jun 02, 2017. The full article can be found here

In an area of ​​51 hectares, the Agroparque Volcán project is being developed in Volcán, province of Chiriquí, at a cost of $35 million.

The project in a first stage covers a proposal for the cultivation of strawberries and other fruits of the forest in a greenhouse under the hydroponics technique.

The agropark concept is very successful in Almería, Spain, where thousands of hectares are devoted to agricultural production, and the objective of this project is to replicate it in Panama, explained Giuseppe Cicatelli, owner of Agroparque Volcán.

In addition to the industrial production of strawberries in the agropark, a free zone will be established in which logistics services, collection centers, offices and a cold chain, among others, will be provided.

“For the cultivation of these fruits, 10 hectares will be allocated and in September the planting of the first two will begin,” said Cicatelli.

Strawberry, due to its antioxidant properties, is in high demand and in Volcán, thanks to its climate, it can be produced all year round, says the businessman.

Under a greenhouse and with the hydroponics technique, dependence on climatic variations is reduced, the attack of pests is reduced and the use of pesticides is eliminated.

The project will cultivate the portola variety, a strawberry that adapts to the climate of the Chiriqui highlands and it is estimated that yields per plant exceed 1.3 kilograms.

In one hectare under a greenhouse, 180,000 plants are scheduled to be planted. The harvest will start in 60 days, but it is not until January 2018 that exports to China are expected to start, Cicatelli said.

A genetics center will also operate in the agropark to obtain new varieties of fruit. Demonstration plots will be established in this area and work is already underway on a variety of white strawberry with a pineapple flavor. This is the “strawberry pineapple”.

Agroparque Volcán is considered the flagship project of the fruit agri-food chain of the Western Region Agricultural Master Plan, said Felipe Rodríguez, president of the board of directors of the Western Region Competitiveness Center (Cecomro).

The Master Plan for Agriculture in the Western Region is a public-private initiative that involves an investment of 557 million dollars over the next 7 years.

The program aims to promote agricultural production in the provinces of Bocas del Toro and Chiriquí, in addition to the Ngäbe-Buglé region.

“We have to recognize that agricultural practices in the country are not productive and in some cases have a negative impact on the environment or are not profitable due to high production costs,” says Rodríguez.

“This is a megaproject for the region that will generate about 600 jobs in its full operation,” said the president of Cecomro.

“The Cicatelli project represents a third of the investment that the Del Monte company will develop in the Baru banana region,” added Rodríguez.

The production of strawberries and the free zone of Volcán that will work in Agroparque Volcán will be added to other developments in the western region of the country.

According to Rodríguez, the Master Plan also includes a project for new banana plantations in the province of Bocas del Toro with the Cooperativa Bananera del Atlántico (Cobana). This production will be destined for the European market.

In the Ngäbe-Buglé region, with the Nuestra Señora del Camino Foundation, two projects are promoted. One will be dedicated to the cultivation of tubers and the other to vegetables. Also in the region, 100 hectares of pigeon peas will be cultivated to supply the Prolucsa company, reported Rodríguez.