"Portuguese mainly eat green [asparagus]. About 70% do not even know white, but we're trying," says Peter Herman Raphael.
Klaas Zwart, Cogumelos Cultivados
Texto de Patrícia Serrado
Fotografias de Vânia Rodrigues
Peter Herman Raphael and Antonia Maria Vansant, father and daughter, saw a business opportunity in the production of white asparagus. The export had only one destination, the Netherlands, the natural country of the owner of the company, but over time the market in the Netherlands switched their turns.
The production of white asparagus began in 2015 in Oliveira do Hospital, Coimbra district, in Beira Alta. The seeds related to the seed business of our host's father, which in 1986, came to Portugal, with the aim of making organic horticulture.
The idea advanced because the product, here, develops earlier than in the Netherlands. Therefore, both started to export this raw material at a reasonable price. However, without a clear explanation, the Dutch market in recent years has seen a drop, because much of the product was being sold very cheaply. The solution was to try to dispose of white asparagus in Portugal.
"Portuguese mainly eat green [asparagus]. About 70% do not even know white, but we're trying," says Peter Herman Raphael. Armed with persistence, our cicerone is selling this raw material, produced in organic mode, in big stores and distributors.
The fact that the land has "heavy" soil, in the words of Peter Herman Raphael, there was the option of putting sand, since the sandy terrain is the most suitable for white asparagus. The part that "drenched with water" began to have cultivated the green asparagus.
The useful life of this product is generally ten years in Portugal, unlike in the Netherlands, which at the end of eight is no longer profitable. "For a small farmer, it can go up to 12 years. It depends on the tons you want to take. We, here on a 1.2 hectare, took eight tons. Once caught, go to the water as cool as possible for one night. The next day they are washed again, they pass through a line that cuts everything to the same size and the caliber is registered," he explains. The caliber implies between five and six different classes. It is placed in a cold room, where it is stored at about 1ºC. Finally, they are placed in a specific bag (MAP), which allows better storage and transport. "Both white asparagus and green asparagus have a short harvest period. We are expecting it to be from mid-February / early March to mid-June. For larger quantities or resale, you can send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. "
Although they have never used chemicals or herbicides, only in October 2019 they will have the BIO Certification. The company employs 12 people, which add up to three more at the time of the asparagus harvest.