On site with Moroccan organic producers PBS
The four BioTropic employees were there shortly before the harvest period. They discussed organisational issues for the season with El Hjouji. How many should be delivered? When? But also: How do the fruits look? The soil? Agricultural engineer Finotti is the specialist who focuses on this and carried out an agricultural audit. For this, he picked leaves, took samples of the soil and fruits, in order to analyse them in the laboratory.
PBS organic vegetables thrive in protected greenhouses, a smaller portion also grow on open land. “When we were there, these open areas were prepared for the next sowing - workers spread compost over the soil to mix in. Organic courgettes should be planted. If all goes well, the fruits will be ready for harvesting in the coming year”, notes Odile Bouron,
The water required for cultivation used by PBS predominantly comes from springs and the nearby Oued Souss river. This makes the Souss plains relatively fertile in comparison to other areas of land. PBS employs modern water management as standard: water is automatically fed to the plants in small amounts via drip irrigation. In this way, the plants only receive the water that they need to grow.
During the high season, between October and May, around 450 workers work on the PBS farms and in the packing station. Most of them come from the surrounding region. Lots of people also means lots of responsibility. The farms include sleeping and recreation areas which provide modern sanitary facilities. PBS has been BSCI certified since 2013. This code of conduct aims to standardise working and social standards in international trade and improve them in at-risk countries. The strict specifications of the BSCI are based on international conventions such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Labour Organisation (ILO). Child labour is therefore banned, there is occupational safety and employees receive appropriate remuneration for their work. No matters of course in the North African country.
One feature is PBS’ own seedling cultivation. The majority of the vegetable plants are picked at PBS and not bought in. As the saying goes: “Then you know what you’ve got.” Country cucumbers were grafted during the BioTropic visit. This means that a standard variety of cucumbers was refined with an old variety in order to create a more robust cucumber plant.
Text: Visnja Malesic
Images: BioTropic GmbH
As at: November 2016