Profile: Alysson Barbosa Vieira

From the Brazilian hinterland to Australia’s back roads, Alysson Barbosa Vieira is a professional agronomist with a passion for table grapes and an extensive technical knowledge.

Alysson has had a dedicated 15-year career in table grape production, which followed a degree in agronomy at the University of Bahia State in Brazil, and several years in tropical table grape production in Petrolina.

Alysson discusses his transformative journey, which saw two specific highlights – his integral role in the research and experimentation of a promising new variety for Brazil, and his relocation to Australia.

In 2016, Alysson took the plunge to transition from Brazil to Sunraysia, where he took up a role with Perfection Fresh Australia. Eight years on, he is still Perfection Fresh’s table grape agronomist, overseeing operations across farms in Emerald and Sunraysia. His role encompasses a spectra of responsibilities, including the provision of technical recommendations for production – irrigation, fertilisation, vine health and crop management – and he is also actively interested in conducting experiments to formulate and refine protocols to optimise production.

 including technical recommendations for soil and vine health, along with crop management. He also conducts field trials to formulate and refine protocols to optimise production.

Tell me about what brought you to Australia.

In 2016, Perfection Fresh Australia sought an experienced agronomist to provide expertise in developing growing protocols for new varieties sourced from Grapa varieties in Australia for their grower suppliers. My professional background uniquely aligned with this requirement, as I possessed significant experience with the mentioned breeder. I had been an integral part of the team that contributed to the success of one of Grapa Varieties’ cultivars in the agricultural landscape of Brazil. Recognising the synergies between my expertise and the organisational needs, the alignment proved to be impeccable. Consequently, I made the strategic decision to relocate to Australia and join Perfection Fresh Australia, where I continue to contribute to the advancement and optimisation of table grape cultivation practices.

How long have you been involved in the table grape industry as an agronomist and how did you become involved?

The table grape industry stands as a cornerstone in the region where I pursued my university education, holding a pivotal role in its economic landscape. Acknowledging the uniqueness of table grapes, I firmly believe they represent one of the most intricate crops, requiring a comprehensive understanding of various scientific disciplines for cultivation success. The technical nuances and challenges associated with table grape production have captivated my interest. It was this fascination that solidified my decision, even before concluding my university studies, to dedicate my professional life to the intricate world of table grapes. Today, my commitment to this specialised field persists, as I navigate the complexities and contribute to the continual advancement of table grape cultivation practices.

What are the differences you see between table grape production in Australia and where you are from?

Comparing my previous experience in table grape production in Brazil with my current role in Australia presents a distinctive contrast. In Brazil, my focus was dedicated to tropical production, whereas in Australia, the industry predominantly revolves around Mediterranean conditions due to the ongoing development of tropical production. Nevertheless, my exposure to table grape production in various countries has provided me with a comprehensive perspective, closely monitoring practices in key global regions.

Australia, despite its less-than-ideal weather conditions, boasts natural elements that favour table grape cultivation. The region experiences low seasonal rainfall and a significant temperature amplitude between day and night, contributing to the development of vibrant colours and optimal sugar concentration in the grapes. On the flip side, Australia contends with challenges, notably the high costs of labour, ranking among the highest globally. The labour-intensive nature of table grape cultivation presents a notable impact on our competitiveness compared to other countries. Additionally, our current productivity levels lag behind competitors, posing both a cost challenge and an opportunity for growth and enhancement in the evolving landscape of table grape production.

Where do you see the industry going in 2024 and beyond?

The formidable challenges ahead, encompassing high production costs, potential weather fluctuations, emerging obstacles, and intensified competition from our southern hemisphere counterparts, necessitate a strategic recalibration towards enhanced efficiency, cost reduction, and heightened productivity. Amidst these challenges, the unwavering reputation of Australian grapes in the discerning Asian market stands as a testament to our inherent strengths. Despite the hurdles, I maintain a steadfast belief in Australia’s enduring significance as a major player in the global table grape production landscape.

Looking forward, the trajectory of production is poised for a robust evolution, with a pronounced inclination towards embracing new varieties. This evolution, though laden with numerous learning curves and adaptations, holds the promise of increased yields and elevated quality as specific production practices become more refined for each variety. Furthermore, anticipating a forward-looking approach within the industry, I envision companies actively seeking innovative technologies to amplify yields, curtail costs, and mitigate risks, exemplified by the adoption of practices such as the use of plastic covers. In this landscape of continuous growth and adaptation, the Australian table grape industry remains poised to thrive and innovate.

What do you love about being an agronomist?

My affinity for agronomy is rooted in its dual nature, functioning not solely as a scientific discipline but also as an art form, orchestrating the sustainable and efficient production of food.

What are some career highlights/moments you’re proud of?

In reflecting on my career trajectory, two significant milestones stand out prominently. Firstly, hailing from the Brazilian northeastern hinterland region, I embarked on a transformative journey to Australia, where I established myself as an agronomist within one of the country’s leading fresh produce companies. This transition represents not only a personal evolution but also a testament to the global reach and impact of agricultural expertise.

Secondly, in 2010, against the backdrop of a thriving Brazilian table grape industry, I witnessed a pivotal moment of innovation and adaptation. As the market landscape shifted and challenges emerged, I was part of a forward-thinking initiative within my company. Recognizing the potential of new grape varieties, we ventured into uncharted territory, acquiring a promising cultivar from California renowned for its resilience to rainfall and high productivity. Through relentless research and experimentation, our team diligently honed the production protocols for this variety. The fruits of our labour were undeniable, as the variety rapidly gained traction, expanding from a modest few hectares to more than 1000 hectares under cultivation. This transformative journey underscored the power of innovation and collaboration in shaping the trajectory of the industry.

Is there anything else you’d like to share?

In wrapping up, I want to emphasise wholeheartedly that my commitment to Australian table grape production goes beyond profession—it’s a genuine belief in the industry’s resilience, innovation, and potential. From the vast landscapes of Brazil to the flourishing fields of Australia, my journey has fortified my conviction in the remarkable qualities of Aussie table grape cultivation. As I continue to navigate this dynamic realm, my unwavering faith in the industry’s growth remains a driving force. Together, let’s nurture, innovate, and propel Australian table grape production to even greater heights on the global stage. Cheers to the future of our vines and the abundant possibilities they hold!gh

I am immensely thankful for the guiding hand of God, shaping my life’s path. My deepest appreciation extends to my wife and daughters, whose understanding and support have been unwavering pillars in the face of the demands inherent in my profession. Heartfelt thanks to Perfection Fresh Australia for the opportunity and belief vested in me. A special shout-out to those who have placed their trust in my work, and a salute to the countless grape growers persevering through years of challenges, upholding the illustrious reputation of Australian table grapes and propelling the industry forward. Each one of you has played an indispensable role in my journey, and for that, I am truly grateful.



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