With the start of November, it is again time for the kiwifruit harvest in the region of Bajo Nalón, Asturias. There are several plantations of this fruit, imported from New Zealand in the 80's, which in recent years have been expanding on the banks of the Nalón River as it passes through the Pravano council.
Alejandro Lechado Díaz, a 30-year-old economist, has been the one in charge of continuing his family's tradition of working in the fruit business sector. "I am the second generation. I studied economics, but I leaned more towards the productive part," he affirms. He came in 2010 to the area of Pravia, where he bought his first 5 hectares of land. "We started by sorting kiwis with an old egg sorting machine," recalls the young entrepreneur. At present, its company Kiwi Natur owns an area of 105 hectares and collaborates with other growers who own another 95 hectares also managed by the company.
"The fruit variety that we grow is the Hayward, one of the most productive because of its large size, oval shape, delicious taste and, above all, its long shelf life," explains Lechado, adding that this year they bought the old warehouses of La Cadena, in Pravia. With an area of 6,000 square metres, that will be where they'll carry out all the sorting, packaging and subsequent storage in cold rooms. "The facilities are designed to be able to pack some 60,000 kilos per day," assures the entrepreneur.
Marketing, human resources and expansion
Regarding the marketing, Alejandro Lechado said that its main markets are the domestic market, namely Merca Madrid and Merca Barna, and the rest, about 30%, is exported to Europe and the Middle East. As for this year's yield, he said that it has been a little lower than last year's. However, the aim is to reach around 3,500 tonnes, taking into account that, in addition to the crops located in Pravia, they also have farms in Villaviciosa, Langreo and Cantabria, whose production as a whole will be sorted and packaged in the facilities here.
One of the aspects in which the young entrepreneur is most focused on is that of human resources. "For us, the workforce is the cornerstone of the company. When it is time for the harvest, packaging and storage, we employ around 90 people, and at the time when maintenance duties must be carried out, which is practically all summer, we keep around 40 workers," he explains.
According to Lechado, the prospects for the company's expansion are really good. My idea is to give continuity to the work carried out by the team of people we currently have; to this end, we are working on an R+D+i project, with which we intend to start working with other crops like loquat, avocados and pears. We have already planted 22 hectares of these in Pravia and Castrillón, and with that we would manage to keep most of our staff employed, given that the cultivation of kiwifruit generates very seasonal work, concludes Lechado.