The students at one of the fincas they have visited in the Axarquía. / sur

From Slovenia to the Axarquia to learn the secrets of the subtropical fruit industry

A group of Erasmus students have spent time with the company Managú based in Vélez-Málaga to find out about its environmental production processes

Eugenio Cabezas
EUGENIO CABEZAS

A group of students from the Biotechnical Educational Centre in the Slovenian capital Ljubljana have been in the Axarquía in the last few weeks to learn about the region’s subtropical fruit industry and in particular the avocado, as harvest season gets underway.

The trip has been made possible thanks to the EU’s Erasmus+ exchange programme, in collaboration with the Malaga firm Universal Mobility. Fourteen students and two teachers have spent several weeks working closely with staff, technicians and farmers of the Vélez-Málaga company Managú and its eco BIOrigen seal, to learn more about the workings of a sector which is one of the main economic drivers of the Axarquía.

Visits to the fields and farms, learning about tropical crops, product properties, harvesting and manufacturing processes, logistics and time to ask questions have been the main elements of the programme, allowing the students to delve into the world of subtropical fruit and learn about the reality of mango and avocado cultivation.

With the help of the Managú team, the young Erasmus students have been guided through the whole avocado process, from the moment it is picked until it is transported to the factory, received by the warehouse professionals, assessed by the quality technicians and packed for its departure to national and international markets.

Rafa Velasco, quality technician from the company BIOrigen, has been working with the Slovenian students. He commented on their "enormous interest in this sector, as well as their enormous capacity for learning and good training in their own country," which he added "has made our work much easier."

Experiences

One of the students, Naja Mahne, said that one of the most interesting facts she has learned is that "the Hass avocado develops a rougher skin if it is grown in the south or closer to the equator.” She added that the people in Spain "are very friendly” and that she likes the environment “because the atmosphere is very relaxed.”

For Petra Cankar it was "very interesting" to find out what happens when an avocado falls from the tree and how long it can wait without losing its quality. She also highlighted the scarce rainfall situation in the area: "I was surprised that it rains so little, which is not good for avocados and for agriculture in general.” She added, “On the farm I enjoyed working in nature and loved the breathtaking view.”

Finally, professors Maja Štekovič and Matjaž Ule valued the exchange as "an experience with a high added value” as the students are doing degrees in food and nutrition. "Besides learning new things about traditional food, tropical fruits and vegetables, they have also had the opportunity to learn many things about Spanish culture, its history, cities, language and as they have said many times, they are going to continue learning Spanish in Slovenia because they would like to come back," they said.