(Dec. 5, 1:55 p.m.) ALMERÍA, Spain — Despite lacking notable attendance from the U.S., Canada and Mexico at the recent ExpoAgro Almería, southern Europe’s largest agricultural trade show, there were lessons to be learned that can be applied in North America.

Miguel Angel Palazuelos, production manager for Eurofresh Farms, Willcox, Ariz., said he came to Almería on his own to learn more about greenhouse production techniques. Palazuelos grew up in Sinaloa, Mexico, home to significant greenhouse production.

“I wanted to come here to see the difference between the Dutch and the Almerian greenhouse,” Palazuelos said.

The Almería region has 64,200 acres of greenhouses and shadehouses, according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries of Andalusia.

ExpoAgro Almería was Nov. 27-29.

Gerardo Ernesto Padilla, a small tomato grower from the state of Zacatecas, Mexico, said it is interesting how many Spanish greenhouse growers form alliances, cooperating to produce higher yields.

But while the majority of the attendees that came to Almería wanted to learn more about one of Europe’s largest greenhouse regions, other Spanish growers have their eyes set on the U.S. market.

Juan Torres Ramírez, general manager for Cítricos del Andarax, the largest organic navel grower in Spain with 1,482 acres, said he would someday like to export his oranges to the U.S.

“We know that the U.S. is a huge market for organic production, unlike Spain, where people don’t consume much organic produce,” Torres said.

Transportation costs and export regulations are some of the challenges that have slowed many exports to the U.S., Torres said.

Diego Martínez Cano, president of the Chamber of Commerce of Almería, said this year’s expo focused more on grower-shippers and less on the greenhouse industry.

José Antonio Pérez, president of the water department for Almería, whose uncle was the first person to build a greenhouse in the region, said ExpoAgro’s new focus allows growers to showcase produce.

“Twenty-four years ago, when the expo began, many growers brought their produce to the fair, but as time went by and the greenhouse industry flourished, the expo’s main objective switched to what became more of a greenhouse-oriented fair, demonstrating production techniques, and the technology that goes with it,” Perez said. “Now we are happy to have growers back on stage.”

ExpoAgro Almería is organized by the Chamber of Commerce of Almería, and by the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries of Andalusia. This year the expo hosted more than 200 exhibitors from 10 countries in Europe.

Rafael Ubeda Ramal, first vice president of the Chamber of Commerce of Almería, said that when Spanish astronaut Pedro Duque went out in space, there were two things that could be clearly seen from outer space, the Great Wall of China and the greenhouses of Almería.

Trade show touts south Europe’s produce
Greenhouse researcher Dirk Janssen shows a group of journalists and visitors around a greenhouse where pests are being studied. Janssen works for an institute within Spain's Ministry of Agriculture.