Although Peru has been one of the worst-hit nations by the coronavirus pandemic, the organic supply chain in the country is proving extremely resilient, according to Volkert Engelsman, CEO of Dutch organic supplier Eosta.
“Actually business in Peru is going better than ever,” he said. “Surely this has to do with the integrated sustainable approach of our organic growers, such as mango supplier Jan Bernard. He takes very good care of his people."
Barnard’s company, ProNatur, has a few hundred employees, and so far none have apparently fallen ill.
According to Engelsman, he received a series of photos from Jan Bernard demonstrating ProNatur’s commitment to the health of its workers. The pictures showed workers receiving flu shots and consuming resistance-enhancing cocktails of fresh ginger and orange juice.
“His company is a real safe haven for local workers from the Moyobamba area,” said Engelsman. “They are doing remarkably well in these difficult times. Surely this has to do with Jan Bernard’s sustainability policy. It ranges from creating resilience in the soil to preserving the rainforest and caring for the employees. They have founded schools, arranged childcare and they provide good medical support.”
Peru has been Eosta’s main source for organic mangoes, passion fruit and ginger for a number of years, and Engelsman believes a major factor in the resilience of the organic supply chain has been diversity in cultivation.
“ProNatur encourages its smallholders, many of them descending from Aguaruna and Huambisa natives, to grow a variety of fruit and coffee at different altitudes,” Eosta stated. “In addition they grow beans, peas, cassava, bananas and other crops for their own use. This guarantees a healthy diet and preserves biodiversity.”
ProNatur also played a major role in a local campaign against water pollution, according to Engelsman. “The river basins in this region are often affected by the activities of mining companies,” he said. “Jan Bernard has made great efforts to keep the catchment area of his growers clean, and the people are grateful for that.”