Wal Mart summit to learn best farming practices in Costa Rica

Wal Mart held a summit to examine best practice on sourcing from small farmers. The meeting was hosted by Wal Mart Central America in Costa Rica. Costa Rica is a small country with a population of 4 million.

There is a thriving agriculture. Costa Rica has a large number of volcanoes some of which are still active. The cultivated land is based on volcanic ash and the soils are very fertile. They are also free draining. Just before we arrive they had had 10 days of consecutive rainfall and over one metre of rain had fallen.

Costa Rica

Vegetables were the principal crops with a rotation of potatoes, carrots, onions, cabbage (red and green) and maize.

The photos show the Wal Mart teams from Canada, US and Japan helping (ish) gather the harvest. This isn’t as we would recognise a huge seasonal undertaking as potatoes are planted and harvested every week of the year.

As the locals put it ‘we have a rainy season and a less wet season’ i.e. no winter.

The soils are extremely easy to work and rather than fork and lifting the tubers, the farmers used an implement like a blunt, broad sickle. This was used to open the rows and then the potatoes were hand picked and packed into sacks.

Many of the growers issues were familiar; access to land (city dwellers were moving into the growing areas and buying houses with land) and encouraging new entrants into the sector. In a demonstration of the reality of globalisation, the farmer in the pictures commented that his business plan was waiting on whether his son was going to return or stay working in London.

There were some other familiar aspects of production with agrochemical recording and environmental restrictions.

Here are some pictures of the local village:

Posted by Pearce on 28 November 2011
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