No more coca, but organic limes

When the first shipment of Colombian limes from "Persian Limes" arrived at organic fruit specialist Eosta in Waddinxveen last week, they came with a very nice surprise. On the 800 boxes of fresh green limes, almost a hundred postcards were stuck with personal messages from the farm workers of the valley of the river Poblanco. For them, the first shipment of Colombian limes to the Netherlands means a fresh new start for the Colombian countryside, after decades of poverty and guerrilla warfare.

 

In early 2016, Volkert Engelsman, director of Eosta, traveled throughout Colombia with Juan Manuel Santos, the president of Colombia, and Phil Hogan, the European Commissioner for Agriculture. Santos was about to conclude an historic peace agreement with the FARC guerrilla movement, for which he would later be awarded the Nobel Prize. It was high time to revitalize the countryside after it had been destroyed for years by the cocaine trade. To this end, Santos turned his attention to organic agriculture for export as a dream alternative. Engelsman saw the possibilities and promised the Colombian growers help in switching to organic farming.

 

A better place to live

Now it's finally here. With Eosta's advice, Juan Pablo Duque has planted 300 hectares of trees in recent years and achieved organic certification. This year the trees really started to produce fruits. “Thank you for buying our very first export fruit!” it says on one of the many cards, stuck on a pallet full of juicy green limes. “These limes have been grown with love and passion, by people who love the countryside. We're going to make our region a better place to live. Thanks for your trust and keep buying them from us! Valentino Bedoya, field worker.” Over the next few years, the area will be extended to 2000 hectares.

 

Both socially and ecologically responsible

Eosta’s lime specialist Nicolas Coste is delighted with the first harvest: “The limes are really top quality and are selling like hot cakes. Plus, there's a great story behind it. The plantations provide equal incomes and healthy jobs, even childcare. They protect all sorts of native species of plants and animals. For Colombia, this represents a great opportunity to restore agricultural landscapes, to bring back agriculture and to change Colombia's international image positively. It's a really nice company.

Together towards a healthy future

Volkert Engelsman, director of Eosta, responded by sending a warm video message to Juan Pablo Duque and his employees: “Congratulations! In the face of Covid-19, it is even clearer that we need to make changes as regards biodiversity and agriculture. You are the pioneers of a future in which agriculture is not only about kilograms per hectare, but also about soil health, biodiversity, positive climate impact and health for farmers and citizens. We look forward to working with you for many, many years!"

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