By Oscar Nkala
Moroccan strawberry exports are likely to decline by as much as 50% this season following the destruction of fruits grown in plastic tunnels and greenhouses by a violent storm on February 28.
According to preliminary storm damage assessments done by Moroccan berry dealer BestBerry, the 12-hour long storm will have a lasting negative impact on all berry exports this season.
“The storm was unique because it lasted all night. The tunnels fell down on the fruit and devastated the plants. Besides, there is some heavy rainfall which make the fruit inappropriate for export.
“We are waiting for the rains to stop and hopefully, we can save part of our harvest. I guess by the end of the season we will see a decrease of up to 50% of the March and early April production window,” BestBerry general manager Nabil Belmkadden told FreshPlaza, a leading Dutch fresh produce journal.
A government assessment to determine the extent and impact of the storm damage is still underway. Belmkadden said apart from storm damage, growers were still grappling with pest and disease outbreaks which largely affected raspberries and blueberries.