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Roberto Silva-Rodríguez, director of Agropiura SAC:

"We're open to starting conversations with potential clients in Europe about organic bananas"

Despite the fact that organic table grapes fetch better prices than conventional ones, Agropiura SAC, a fruit producing and packing company from northern Peru, has recently decided, after three years of poor yields and quality issues due to abnormal weather conditions, to abandon the organic production of table grapes and to focus on its packing activities and banana cultivation.

Box of limes in the cold storage room.

Economic losses due to low productivity in the field
"At the packing plant, we provide packing services to third parties for the packing of table grapes, avocados and limes. We also pack the bananas we produce on a total of 80 hectares," says Roberto Silva-Rodríguez, director of Agropiura SAC. "Until last December, we had our own production of table grapes of the varieties Sweet Celebration, Autumn Crisp, Sweet Globe and Thompson, all certified organic and fair trade for the US market, but due to fungal problems caused by higher humidity rates in recent years because of the influence of the El Niño phenomenon and the consequent financial losses due to low productivity in the field, we opted to lease the fields to a Spanish company, which has continued with the cultivation under conventional methods."

Upon arrival at the packing plant, the limes are disinfected.

Through organic cultivation, the company harvested an average of 2,000 boxes of table grapes per hectare, and the director foresees that in conventional cultivation, the production will increase to up to 3,500 boxes. "The prices paid for the organic production weren't bad, but the low yields caused us to lose a lot of money in recent years. We could not continue like this, hence the decision to lease the lands."

Packing plant with organic certification
While five years ago, 40% of Agropiura's table grapes were shipped to the European market, in these last three years up to 90% were exported to the U.S. for much higher prices. "We had a very attractive organic and Fairtrade product program with Whole Foods Market. It's a pity that the weather conditions are making it impossible to grow organic table grapes in northern Peru. At the packing plant, however, we continue to handle organically-certified fruit for third parties, including limes, avocados and table grapes."

Ser.Mac. sorting machine.

Several containers of table grapes shipped to Europe were lost due to poor product quality upon arrival, says Roberto. "I remember a batch of grapes that arrived with somewhat brown skin, and another container intended for the Swiss market that was rejected for containing traces of a chemical product that must have been present in the soil for many years, since we were not carrying out treatments with any phytosanitary products that were not allowed in organic cultivation."

From 250 to 600 workers
While in conventional cultivation there are no longer problems with powdery mildew or downy mildew, Agropiura now prefers to focus on its packing activity. "We pack grapes from October to December, employing about 600 people at the peak of the campaign. Outside the table grape season, we always keep about 250 workers employed."

Limes ready to be shipped to foreign markets.

Looking for a banana importer
The bananas cultivated by Agropiura, all organically grown, are intended for the Japanese and European markets. "At this time, we are open to starting conversations with potential clients in Europe interested in importing high-quality organic bananas. We can ship two containers per week, every week of the year," says Roberto.

For more information:
Roberto Silva-Rodríguez (director)
Agropiura SAC
Tel.: +51 9866 09561 (Peru)
[email protected]

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