In early 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic impacted Ecuador as hundreds of businesses closed, which resulted in thousands of deaths and a massive wave of job loss.
“I am a Kichwa farmer that works with a community of women who depend on the daily harvest to support our families, thanks to Agroapoyo we didn’t stop during the pandemic and they guaranteed our incomes.”, says, Himelda, fruit farmer.
The fruit processing company Agroapoyo in Ecuador’s capital Quito, developed a new strategy to keep their farmers’ business open through the pandemic. Agroapoyo sources organically grown fruit from communities and farmers in Ecuador, and support small businesses by turning plantain, cassava, mangoes, goldenberries and pineapples into organic snacks and exporting it to other countries. Misshaped fruit that cannot be processed is donated to a local food bank. Being on the equator means that the farmers can harvest 52 weeks per year. Fruit that is not harvested is however lost, and the farmers and their families depend on a steady income.
“We were hesitant in the beginning since we thought maybe Covid-19 would end quite quickly, but seeing where we are a year later, we are pleased that we went ahead with this project.”, says Edgar Narvaez, Founder, Agropapoyo
Agroapoyo intended to maintain their employees’ jobs and to stimulate the country’s economy through the production chain of small producers in vulnerable areas. The solution would keep their team of employees healthy by building a base camp near the plant using 17 Better Shelter Relief Housing Units (RHUs). Here, the Agropoyo team can live and work for two weeks consecutively, and then return home for 15 days to rest and be with their families. Before returning to the plant again, they need to take a covid test. The 15/15 schedule has proven successful and Agroapoyo has had no cases of Covid-19 among their workers.
“It has been quite a new and challenging experience, as we are not experts in health, or in lodgings, nor logistical management … And yet we find ourselves learning every day how to handle the situation so that this circle continues to spin, and we can contribute with what we know best, which is to make food.”, says Edgar Narvaez.
“Innovation is seeing opportunities and finding answers where others have not seen them before. And that’s what we do and will continue to do because it is in our DNA. Agroapoyo will always continue to innovate responsibly for a better Ecuador.”, says Edgar Narvaez.
- Continued income for employees and farmers despite covid-19
- Maintained health of employees during the pandemic
- Continued stimulation of small communities’ business and of the local economy during a financially very difficult year.