Ricardo Polis: "We cannot go back"
I have 35 years of working life, 26 connected to agriculture and the last 20 closely linked to the export of agricultural products.
I am proud to be a witness to this "Agricultural Miracle" that Peru made in this century. Yes, Milagro Agrícola, this is how international buyers and our foreign competition told us, surprised: South Africans, Argentines, Uruguayans, Chileans, Brazilians, Australians (all exporting producers in the Southern Hemisphere).
I was lucky enough to participate in the last 16 Fruit Logística fairs in Berlin, the most important fruit and vegetable fair in the world, I participated when Peru had a very small stand, I think there were 6 tables and 6 chairs, we were nobody in the global market. Today, Peru has one of the most important stands at the Fair with more than 500 square meters, where there is a queue to talk and contact many Peruvian businessmen, (there are NOT 15 as a former minister says). In this fair we not only expose our fresh products, we also promote our tourism, gastronomy and of course, Pisco.
We are so important that we have been named an “OFFICIAL PARTNER COUNTRY” a title that each year is given to the most prominent countries in the industry. (This year we were named OFFICIAL PARTNER COUNTRY at the Hong Kong fair)
I remember the years when I offered grapes, international buyers told me, first I buy from Chile and when I see that I lack product I buy from you. This was reversed, changed, we stopped being the replacement, the second course. Peru competes on an equal footing with the largest exporter of grapes in the world, our neighbors in Chile. In mandarins, we managed to displace our Argentine and Uruguayan friends from the British market, the most demanding market in the world, sharing this market and fighting respectfully with South Africa.
This story repeats itself with many products where at the beginning of this century we were nobody and now we are among the world's leading exporters of the products we export.
Another not minor detail is that we broke paradigms and demonstrated that in Peru you can grow products that were previously thought could not grow, such as: grapes in Piura and blueberries on the coast (today we are the first exporters in the world )
I can proudly say that the Peruvian agricultural export industry is one of the best in the world, it is world class, where all supermarkets: Chinese, Russian, British, Canadian, European and from the United States, all come to buy in Peru. , mention a name and that supermarket buys from Peru ... directly or indirectly.
The export brought to Peru the MANDATORY implementation of Good Agricultural Practices (GAP in English) and what are they? They are compliance with international standards on: good labor practices, good environmental practices, good practices in field management, among others, they are the ISO of agriculture. These standards are as demanding as the laws imposed by the Peruvian state, they are MANDATORY by European and American supermarkets to be able to export and annual certifications must be passed with top-level international certifying companies. In the chapter on good labor practices, there is the requirement to provide good working conditions to the staff, this implies: training, hygienic services, regulation of schedules, use of safety equipment, sexual or racial discrimination, child labor, etc. etc.
To say that all exporting companies mistreat staff and that XNUMXth century working conditions are maintained is far from the truth. If there were (I do not put my hands to the fire for anyone) companies that fail to comply with Peruvian regulations, that the Peruvian state intervenes and imposes the corresponding fines.
We cannot include everyone in the same bag and say that this industry is bad, there are many companies that I have visited and in all of them I have seen a real commitment to their people, there are NOT ONLY 15 companies.
Many times we have invited different politicians to visit us, being able to choose the company they wish to visit and come see the reality, something of which we should all be proud. The answer was always the same "I know, and I don't have time." They never went. Today, there are politicians who speak as good, with an absolute ignorance of reality, with many lies and people who repeat without knowing.
We are destroying a success story, envy of our competing countries.
We have come a long way, we cannot go back.