Westfalia’s site in Peru. (Photos: Westfalia Fruit)

The social network: Westfalia helping smallholder farmers realise big ambitions

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Westfalia Fruit, a leading multinational supplier of avocados and a range of fresh vegetables and fruit, is growing its partnerships with smallholder farmers in some of the poorest and most remote regions of the world. The company hopes to help provide access to global markets and empower farmers to build sustainable livelihoods.

In Africa, South America and beyond these partnerships have helped lift communities out of poverty while allowing Westfalia to meet the burgeoning consumer demand for avocados and other fruits.

“Our approach, under which we provide excellent returns for crops,” said Johnathan Sutton, Westfalia group executive of safety and environment, “is part of a wide-ranging community support agenda that illustrates Westfalia’s commitment to a long-term sustainable partnership with local growers and communities.”

One example is in Peru, in the agricultural areas of the Bosques de Niebla de Monabamba. Westfalia, which is collaborating with a cooperative of 80 experienced avocado producers to help them achieve Global G.A.P certification to enable them to access the international avocado market, creating sustainable local employment. As well, in 2022 Westfalia Peru celebrated the first collective of small and medium growers across five key growing regions who successfully achieved Rainforest Alliance certification.

Another sustainable development success story is in a remote region of Tanzania, where Westfalia has supported a group of farmers to develop avocado production for the late international marketing window, with the first crops arriving in 2021 in those markets. The area has excellent natural resources for the late season and is an ideal location for developing new cultivars. In 2022 both South Africa and India granted access for Tanzanian avocados, providing a new market for the locally developing industry.

“Westfalia’s experience and global reach means we can go to remote areas that have huge potential,” said Mr Sutton. “With our local grower partners, we can sustainably work with the community farms, transforming them into something of value and creating job opportunities for local people. This benefits them financially and protects the natural environment; in return they help us with expanding our diverse footprint to meet the year-round demand for avocados.”

As part of Westfalia’s collaborative approach, Westfalia Fruit nurseries are strategically located near to growing areas. The nurseries focus on growing clonal plants which are climatised to the local environment and have characteristics that make them more pest and disease tolerant to produce good yields for growers and require minimal pest control.

“We work in partnership with smallholders, bringing them into the value chain,” Mr Sutton concluded. “We help with certification and accreditations, whilst building sustainable future wealth for the local communities. Our local teams are now working with small holders to develop financial and management skills to also support their long-term sustainable development.”