Farming melons in Costa Rica

 

I'm Daniel Pacheco, I'm the technical manager for Tesco for bananas, melons and pineapples.  Here we are at the peninsula in Nicoya in Costa Rica, the northern Pacific where part of our melons and watermelons are grown.

I think what makes really good melons here is the weather, the area, the sunlight. They produce a very nice melon, a very clean melon with the right amount of sweetness and the right size to be shipped to the UK.

These farms grow the yellow Honeydews and also watermelons. The life cycle of a melon is pretty quick here in the Tropics. It takes only 52 to 54 days from planting to harvesting. The harvesting process starts pretty early in the morning; there's a big team harvesting the fruit. There's a lot of work going during the day to take care of the quality so we can receive in our stores the best quality as possible.

Hard working bees really are the key of producing good melons. The bees' job is to go into the field and jump between the male flowers to the female flowers so they pollinate so we can have melons.

The grower really needs to take care of the safety of the fruit. It is really a hard crop and only the top guys can do it. You need to be careful on how you wash it, how you handle it before you ship it to the UK. At Tesco we take very special care of that; so we follow up with our growers very closely on the treatments they do to the fruit that's sent to us.

Most of the rejections are going to the local market because it is fruit that is perfect, in perfect condition but it has cosmetic issues and what is not sold in the national market is going for cattle feeding: nothing is wasted.

One of the most important facts about the melons is that they provide a good, stable source of jobs, even though they are seasonal, to a lot of people in isolated areas like this where source of employment is not very diverse.

We are able to trace back all the way down each one of the fruits that we sell to our customers; that's why the traceability numbers that each one of the boxes has is so important.

Our growers are always involved in social programmes. They work with community associations to identify needs in education, in health and they donate terrains, they donate land or money. Once it has been identified, the need is really important so they work with the communities through that way.

I really like the watermelons, I always like to have it with ice cream. They are just great.

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