Panama is a developing country in Central America under US influence and benefits from heavy investment in agriculture and other areas. Adolfo Levin of SupPlant observes that Panama's government views agriculture as key to national development.
SupPlant Chief Scientist Dr. Adolfo Levin describes a huge 5,000 ha, budding agricultural project designated for mango, avocado, lemon and plantain (cooking banana) saplings. So far, only 180 ha have been planted in Coclé in Panama's Dry Arc region.
Coclé is considered a tropical region with temperatures ranging from 20 to 33 degrees centigrade and 600-1,400 mm annual rainfall, however, January to May are dry months.
The project was initiated by three entrepreneurs, one from Panama and the other American, seeking to establish an unprecedented Panamanian plantation project that could shape the entire country's agriculture.
SupPlant's first encounter with the entrepreneurs was at a International Mango conference in Ecuador where Adolfo gave a lecture on irrigation. At the end of the lecture, one of the entrepreneurs present invited Adolfo to visit the project. He brought along another SupPlant representative who presented the technological (irrigation/ engineering) aspect in addition to the agronomic aspect presented by Adolfo.
Adolfo says 'We quickly recognised the flaws and explained to them that prevailing conditions would prevent them achieving their goals. Within two days their perceptions underwent a dramatic change and they sold the land they had purchased for the project and acquired other land in keeping with the information we had provided'.
The entrepreneurs finally closed the deal after several visits to Israel to view the methods used by Israeli farmers and were introduced to Company office staff engaged upon their tasks.
SupPlant is to create a turnkey project starting with irrigation design and installation, and providing agronomic oversight and advice for the first two years by an experienced, Spanish speaking representative sent out from Israel.
At the same time trials will be conducted with Panamanian farmers to train them so that they can ultimately manage the project independently.
Since SupPlant is coming in on the ground floor and works to the highest standards, it can introduce Israel's cutting edge technology, include Panamanian universities in R&D and train agricultural students to be at the forefront of Panamanian farming. 'We intend', says Adolfo, 'that the project be worthwhile and equally profitable for everyone involved: the entrepreneurs, SupPlant and Panama's farmers.
As mentioned, Panama encourages agricultural initiatives and investment and recognises the importance of this project. Panama's President is to visit Israel this November. He is following the project closely and wishes SupPlant to manage the agricultural aspect of his visit.