Blue Desert will be Vellsam’s future experimental station

María Zamora, Chief Executive Officer, in an interview with El Agro Auténtico

María Zamora Cervantes is one of the best known businesswomen in the Almeria countryside. It is backed by a long track record. Together with her husband Francisco Castillo, they founded Vellsam in the summer of 1999, a family business that over the years has become a multinational with a presence in 46 countries on four continents. We leave you the complete fragment of the interview with El Agro Auténtico, in which they talk about the start of the Almeria campaign with a view to the future, to the new projects that are opened from now on; but remembering the origins of a company that has always grown being faithful to some very firm values.

QUESTION: What are these values?

MARÍA ZAMORA: No shortcuts, no lies. To be transparent. Transmit values in order to have fellow travelers, friends and not clients. To do things well and without haste.

QUESTION: Is speed important?

MARÍA ZAMORA: It is. When there is no rush, things consolidate. Without haste you walk and grow better.

QUESTION: As a woman, are you an example to follow in the sector?

MARÍA ZAMORA: When I am asked this comment I always think about the role of women in the development of agriculture in Almeria. What merit they have had, together with their husbands, to make this whole agricultural model grow from nothing! It is commendable. In the 90’s I was vice-president of AMFAR, Federation of Women and Families of the Rural Area, at national level and at local level president in Almeria with the objective of defending the crucial role of women in the rural world.

QUESTION: Yours is an exemplary company in the visibility of women, in the values on which it is based and also in the family model it represents. Proud of it?

MARÍA ZAMORA: Very much so. And even more so now that all our children are part of the common project that is Vellsam. First María joined us years ago, then Paco and more recently Rocío has joined us.

QUESTION: Congratulations. More things, María. We have come to this enclave in Almeria next to the Tabernas Solar Platform, where are we?

MARÍA ZAMORA: We are at the location of our future research farm, seven hectares, which we hope will be ready for next year. Blue Desert will be the future experimental station of Vellsam. That is the name we have given it. Blue Desert, blue desert, in allusion to how agriculture can be developed in sub-desert climates. There are many R&D projects that we want to implement from here.

QUESTION: For example…

MARÍA ZAMORA: We will divide the farm into modules to carry out multiple tests. For example, mycorrhizae, trichodermas; new hydrogels to retain and optimize water, taking into account the problems of drought. We will look for solutions to maintain agricultural production while consuming less water and less inorganic fertilizers.

QUESTION: It is fascinating the growth that Vellsam has experienced from its birth to the projects it is planning to undertake today. But, do you remember what the beginnings were like?

MARÍA ZAMORA: Of course I do. I remember introducing worm humus to the farmers of the Níjar countryside, back in 1986. Many years have passed. I remember the creation of Vellsam on July 19, 1999. At the beginning we sold humic and fulvic acids; but very soon we understood that we had to diversify and also to export abroad. In 2002 Algeria was the first country we sold to. Nobody believed it was possible, but that was the beginning of our opening abroad.

QUESTION: Did they understand that there was a long way to go if they undertook internationalization?

MARÍA ZAMORA: Yes, we saw it early on. And in that opening we understood that we could not be rigid in the products, that we had to adapt to the particularities of the different production areas. If there was a problem, we took a plane and visited the customer. We have always been and still are close to our customers.

QUESTION: You have a factory in Tabernas and facilities in Níjar and Aguadulce. You are also involved in a factory in Alexandria (Egypt) since 2016 for NPK manufacturing and you have a commercial delegation in Colombia. With this broad background, name me an area of the world that is growing.

MARÍA ZAMORA: If it is an area, for example the area of Asian countries. India, Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam or Thailand, among others.

QUESTION: In closing and with a traveler’s mind, can you name a country that has especially surprised you in your many travels?

MARÍA ZAMORA – Kazakhstan. For its palaces, for its culture and history and for the kindness of its people. A great unknown that is worth getting to know.