In the sunny land of EspÀrito Santo, in southeastern Brazil, more precisely in Linhares, north shore of the coast, it is possible to find the largest papaya farm in Brazil. Of the 2,100 hectares of the Caliman farm, 600 hectares have the Golden, Formosa and Calimosa varieties planted on them, the latter the Brazilian hybrid version of the fruit.
According to Rosângela Caliman, one of the company directors, at the moment the main concern is to consolidate Brazilian papaya on the foreign market. "In the near future, we want the fruit no longer to be considered an exotic fruit, becoming a fruit consumed regularly, as has occurred with mangos and pineapple," she explained.
Today, around one third of the 15,000 tons of papaya picked a month at the farm, which generates 423 direct jobs, are exported to the United States, Canada and European countries like England, the Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland, Portugal, Spain and Italy.
"The Caliman target is to increase the volume exported to the European and North American market, increasing the market share of papaya in these countries. For the time being, Caliman is not after new markets, but there are plans for that in future," explained Rosângela.
To reach the objective of expansion, Caliman invests approximately 500,000 Brazilian reais (US$ 250,000) a year in agreements with research institutes to promote genetic improvement and develop new technologies for industry.
"Any research involving genetic improvement takes on average five years. That was the time necessary for development of the Calimosa hybrid," explained Rosângela.
Calimosa papaya is the result of 84 crossings and investment of 2 million reais (US$ 1 million). The fruit of the crossings between Formosa and Golden papaya was developed in partnership between Caliman and the University of North Rio de Janeiro (Uenf).
Recently forwarded to producers in Espírito Santo, the Calimosa has middle-sized fruit, i.e., larger than the Golden and smaller than the Formosa variety, and has great productivity. "It weighs on average one kilogram (about 2 lbs) and the skin is dark green. The pulp is very orange and may be as much as 26% sweeter than the Formosa," explained Rosângela.
Also produced for export, the Calimosa should not compete with the Golden, the export leader, as they are different varieties, with different sizes and flavours. It will initially be exported at small volumes, being tested on the foreign market.
The Caliman offices are on Santa Terezinha farm, in the city of Linhares, in the state of Espírito Santo. The farm includes the crops, germplasm bank made up of 52 different genetic materials and the company's administrative sector.
In the city of Natal, capital of the northeastern Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Norte, the company runs Caliman Agrícola RN and the fruit-processing unit. The location is strategic due to logistics – due to a port in Natal – for better serving the foreign market.
Brazil is the main global producer of papaya and the third largest exporter, losing only to Mexico and Malaysia, according to figures supplied by the Brazilian Fruit Institute (Ibraf). The fruit is cultivated in all Brazilian regions and the main producer states are Bahia and Espírito Santo.
Telephone: (+55 27) 2103-1500
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