On 24 July IAMZ-CIHEAM Zaragoza welcomed a Chinese delegation on a business trip to Spain as part of the Campaign for the Promotion of the Spanish Alfalfa in China organized by the Spanish Association of Manufacturers of Dehydrated Alfalfa (AEFA) and Eibens consulting, in cooperation with the Spanish Institute for Foreign Trade (ICEX).
The meeting brought together Chinese companies and professionals from the industry with Spanish producers and exporters of alfalfa, which is largely produced in Aragon and it is not surprising that during the 2017-2018 season (from March to March), AEFA members produced 1,453,000 tons of alfalfa, 829,000 of which were grown in Aragón
Pablo Recio, CEO at Eibens Consulting, chaired the meeting, hearing from representatives from China Grassland Industry Association and Hesitan, as well as Alun Jones, Director of Innovation and International Projects at IAMZ-CIHEAM, who presented the host institution and stressed the importance of international cooperation in terms of research and training in the agrofood sector. The coordinators of Animal Production and Food Marketing and Technology also spoke about MSc programmes and other training activities carried out by IAMZ-CIHEAM and related to forage production, animal nutrition or marketing.
Ignacio Delgado, from the Center for Agro-Food Research and Technology of Aragon (CITA), gave a quick review of the history of alfalfa and spoke about its productivity and importance as feed for livestock. Aragón is one of the main alfalfa producing regions (32% of total surface area in Spain) and plays a leading role in research, 18 out of the 22 alfalfa varieties registered in Spain are studied at CITA on the Campus of Aula Dei.
Alfalfa is one of the most important forage species in the world because of its content in protein, vitamins, minerals and carbohydrates, which contributes to animal growth and increased milk and meat production. Alfalfa has always been an important crop in Spain, but now –according to ICEX– the sector is undergoing many changes leading to increased exports and new markets for dehydrated alfalfa; increasing sales from 15-20% of production on international markets to around 75%.
The session ended with a networking activity where Chinese companies had the opportunity to hold business meetings with Spanish producers and exporters. Later, the delegation proceeded to visit Los Monegros cooperative in Sariñena.