Jose Edilberto Ojeda Alama and his colleagues had a conversation at the Expoalimentaria 2018, the most important food fair in Latin America, while they wait for visitors at their stand, which is filled with Kent and Edward mangoes.
Jose is the president of the Ex Huayna Cápac Association (Apehuc), a group of 45 men and 5 women from the San Lorenzo Valley, in the district of Tambo Grande, who are engaged in the production of mangoes. This is the first time that this Association has participated in the Expoalimentaria Fair, and they have one goal in mind: to export their first shipment of mangoes abroad.
"We had heard about the fair, but experiencing it is a completely different thing. We have exchanged many cards so we can have a conversations later on and be able to close contracts," said Jose, visibly delighted.
It hasn't been an easy road. The association was created 15 years ago, but it's production used to be focused on the national market. Three years ago they decided to enter the foreign market with quality mangoes.
"It has cost us a lot of work, sacrifice, and investment. Everything demands investment. The first thing you have to do to get ahead is invest. If you don't invest, you won't progress. It has cost us a lot, but this is our reward," he said.
When they joined, on April 14, 2003, their production managed to yield 6 to 7 tons of mango per hectare. However, when they decided to invest in machinery and better fertilizers, things changed.
Three years ago, their production per hectare jumped to 10 tons. The following year they were producing up to 12 tons of mango per hectare, and now they are ready to export the 16 tons per hectare that each of their 79 hectares produces on average. This means that they produce an average of 1,200 tons of mango per year.
"We didn't even used to have an office. Now we have a modern office, phytosanitary warehouses, and warehouses for fertilizers. In addition, we have organic and Global GAP certification, which add value to the fruit," Ojeda added proudly.
"It's been worth coming to Lima," he said, confident that he will return to Piura with good news.
Banana in the world
Milton César Gonzaga Ramirez, the president of the Association of the United Organic Banana Producers (BOS) Salitral, is also in the Fair. This association is formed by 750 banana producers located in Sullana, Piura.
Their situation, is very different. The bananas from Piura have been shipped to different countries, such as Germany, France, Holland, Switzerland, USA, and Canada, since 2013. However, this year, the international price of bananas has fallen from US $13 for an 18-kilo box to US $12 or US $11.5.
"From 2013 to 2017 our sales percentage was US $8 million. Now, according to our projections, we'll only make US $4.5 million by the end of 2018. That is 30% to 40% lower than our previous sales," Milton said.
However, when the going gets rough, the rough get going. The banana producers from Sulla arrived at the Expoalimentaria fair in search of new clients and opportunities that will allow them to face this problem.
"Recovering the image is a bit complicated, but it's not difficult. We are looking to recover our sales percentage and also variables. We only export fresh bananas, but we also want to elaborate finished products to export them as well," said Milton.