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Ricardo – partner of Naturkost Übelhör in Mexico

Ricardo, can you tell us about your farming career?

I started on a small scale in 1994 growing corn, agave and chia for the national market. Farming only became my main profession 19 years ago and I started to focus on chia 15 years ago. And then 12 years ago, I started supplying Naturkost Übelhör with chia. This was organised through the cooperative through which I used to distribute the raw materials I produced at that time. I’ve been a direct trading partner of Naturkost Übelhör for three years.

How big is your farm today?

Twelve employees currently farm 250 hectares of land on which we grow organic chia. We harvest about 200 tonnes each year.

How is the partnership with Naturkost Übelhör set up?

We agree very fair contractual terms each year. Übelhör gives us the guarantees we need, so we know we will be able to sell everything we harvest. This is important because our production costs have increased significantly due to the organic farming methods we use. Naturkost Übelhör gives us advice on how to cultivate our crops organically and on new agricultural technologies and processes. Übelhör, in turn, can rely on us to work hard to ensure that the chia seeds are of a good organic quality and that we comply with the certification criteria. We follow appropriate crop rotation methods and work very conscientiously. We work completely side by side with Übelhör, but our relationship also goes beyond business. A friendship has developed between us and the employees at Naturkost Übelhör.

What motivates you from an environmental and social perspective?

We care about offering products that are pesticide-free. And we look after the land well. For example, we use a special compost to prepare the soil for growing organic crops. For several years, we have been aware of the importance of working with bees to improve the harvest. So, we’ve set up beehives around the chia crops so that the insects can pollinate the plants. And the honey we produce from the hives has enabled us to enter a new market. We also care deeply about our social responsibilities. By providing secure jobs, we are helping to maintain the quality of life for our local employees and their families.

How is climate change affecting your work?

Nature is changing. Storms are becoming more unpredictable and the uncertainty caused by the changing weather conditions is increasing a little with each harvest. So far, climate change has not affected us significantly, but we are worried about what could happen in the short term. For example, we've noticed that the conditions were much drier last year. That’s why we are trying to do everything we can to help the planet.

Can you explain your future plans and investment priorities?

In 2019, we purchased a precision seed drill and larger tractors to help us expand our production of chia seeds. We want to continue to grow, become even more competitive and create a legacy for our children so that they, too, can continue to work in agriculture.