The sun hides behind the beaches of San Jacinto and San Clemente. It is seen moving away from the 30 hectares of pitahaya planted by Olvin Intriago, originally from Junín. The farm is named after the initials of each member of his family: Okaso.
From the road that connects the cantons of Rocafuerte and Tosagua, almost reaching the bridge of the town of La Papaya (km 7), you can see – in the middle of cracked and dry land – plantations of pitahaya. Six years ago he began to cultivate it, 1,404 poles with 2 plants in each one.
The desire to produce more and enter other countries motivated him to expand his production with 2,000 plants on each hectare where he plans to produce 60,000 kilos of red and yellow pitahaya for each year.
This month already collected part of what was planted a year and a half ago, and will increase in October on this farm that has 30 of 100 hectares of this fruit in Manabí, according to the Pitahaya Producers Association presided over by Intriago.
Besides being the supplier of supermarkets Supermaxi, Tia and Mi Comisariato, his interest to expand arose five months ago when he traveled to the US with exporters and heard from an American importer who preferred the Ecuadorian pitahaya for its flavor in relation to that imported from Vietnam.
“That’s when I decided to take a risk and four months ago I began to know about the proposal of credits of the National Financial Corporation. I heard from President Lenin Moreno that there was the possibility of obtaining loans for ventures and after a month of starting the consultations I was able to obtain that long-awaited loan (of $ 500,000) with which I expanded the crops to 30 hectares. “
Intriago identifies keys to enter demanding markets in health issues such as the US and the European Union: The crops are drip-free and without chemicals, plus the support of Agrocalidad to certify with analysis that the production does not have the whip of the fruit fly. But the most important thing is the resumption of commercial relations with the United States, stagnating 10 years in the previous regime.
Six months ago he sent to the US and European Union between 20 and 40,000 kilos per month, depending on the order and the date of the highest production boom that will be lived next month. He has already started dialogues so that the fruit with other associates reaches Asian markets. “Here was President Moreno and he congratulated me for the initiative, for being an entrepreneur from Manabi.”
In the midst of their crops, some 50 people begin to collect the pitahaya, which is the main exotic export fruit, and in 2017 it grew by 71.3%, according to data from Proecuador. (I)