“In June and July there’s a tremendous amount of strawberries coming off the plants,” he said. “Most areas are not producing strawberries when the season kicks into high gear here. Any export opportunity provides additional outlets for our strawberries, hopefully at a premium price.”
One prized destination is China.
“China is one country we are actively pursuing market access to,” Murai said. “They have a very limited window for growing (strawberries) in China. They’re very enthusiastic about bringing California strawberries in.”
Susan Arcady Barich, director of the Project 17 Agricultural Technology Regional Innovation Cluster (www.project17-montereybay.com) also spoke at the luncheon. Project 17 is funded in part by a $600,000 annual contract from the federal Small Business Administration, good for up to two years, to support innovation in the industry.
“Think of it in terms of trying to create the infrastructure that allowed Silicon Valley to become the electronics center of the world,” Barich said. “That’s what we’re trying to do with agricultural technology.”
Projects envisioned are wide-ranging and include a water quality center in Salinas plus technology research parks in nearby San Benito County and Marina, Barich said.
“The USDA Agricultural Research Station (in Salinas) told us they have tons of research and patents sitting around that they need companies to get started on, to bring those technologies to the ag sector,” Barich said.