Nursery and bio-fertilizer drive economy
San Jose, Augst 15th (CSF). - In order to boost the economy, generate financial liquidity and improve productivity and yields per hectare, APPTA, a cooperative without borders, renews its nursery and bio-fertilizer business.
This is according to the manager and small-scale farmer Juanita Baltodano who also noted that the nursery sales provide liquidity to the organization allowing them to cover part of their obligations like operating and administrative costs.
“Our main business is cacao, but while money from international sales of cacao comes in, the nursery and local sales provide us with financial solvency,” she confirmed.
“In addition to being extra income, grafted cocoa plants improve productivity and crop yields with more productive and disease resistant varieties for the associate farmers. The bio-fertilizers are quite affordable. They also help in pest control and make necessary nutrients available for the growth and development of cacao and other fruit trees which keeps the trees loaded with pods.”
Appta grafts an average of 5,000 cacao trees per month of the following varieties: CATIE R6, 58 PMCT, ICS 95, CATIE R1, R4 CATIE, CC 137 and IMC 67. The grafted plants are sold for USD 3.00 the unit, while a gallon of bio-ferment sells for USD 10.00
The small scale producers hope to return to historic productivity levels of 11,000 per month and gain new customers. “We have had great public acceptance, made various proformas of processing plants to private and Government institutions and hope to increase sales soon,” said Josué Serrano Appta's marketing specialist.
Innovation for adaptation
“The incorporation of bio-ferments or bio-fertilizers in the business began with the intention of innovating for productivity and yield in order to benefit Appta's associates, nevertheless the effectiveness of the ferments have made people come and ask if we sell it,” explained the project manager Walter Rodriguez.
He added that it all started with his personal experience with the bio-fertilizers which were later transferred to the clonal garden of Appta with amazing results. “With the effectiveness of these bio-fertilizers we seek to promote their production on a larger scale, which happened to coincide with the project of Cooperativas Sin Fronteras on adaptation to climate change to improve productivity, and here we are,” said Rodriguez.
He admitted that there are many recipes and ways of making bio-ferments, but that Appta's preparations are special. Aside from the usual ingredients for potency, they use local elements from the Caribbean such as a sea water solution and in some cases shrimp shells.
First place in the Top 10 exporting agro enterprises
Founded over 30 years ago Appta is comprised of 980 indigenous producers from more than 60 communities in the Southern Caribbean region of Costa Rica. Appta stands out as the first small scale producer organization to be certified Fairtrade in Costa Rica and the first to add value to their crops. In 2002 it was recognized by PNUD with the Equator Prize for bringing development to the territory, conserving biodiversity and promoting local participation in sustainable development.
Appta sells banana puree in the USA and cacao to markets in Switzerland and Italy. Additionally, they sell dried tropical fruit snacks and cocoa nibs in the local market.
The sales of cacao in the organic and ethical markets constitute their main income. Their participation in these markets positions the price of cacao USD 4.00/kg over that of the stock market (USD 2.2/kg).
In spite of the low export volumes over the last years, Appta has maintained first place for the third consecutive year in the ranking of the top ten cacao exporting companies according to data from 2016 provided by Maria Ofelia Fernandez of Procomer, Costa Rica.
translated by Jesse Trace