There have been many exciting developments this month, with even more on the horizon. Not only have we been hard at work searching for new opportunities, but the dedicated teams at Ganaderia Pietrasanta (GP) and Panama Golden Pineapple (PGP) have been making continuous improvements to help set us up for a very successful year!
Changing seasons, equipment updates, and potential partnerships can be hard to keep track of day-to-day, so here’s a brief breakdown of what we’ve been up to so far in May.
Panama Golden Pineapple (PGP)
Winter is coming! In the tropics it’s not snow and ice, but excessive rain that defines the season. With more than 1500mm (~60 inches, for our US readers) of rain expected from a weak “La Nina” oscillation, it’s important to time field preparations accordingly.
The first stage of field prep (subsoil plowing and mulching), can be continued through the early part of the rainy season, but the second stage (disc ploughing and bedding) can become a challenge if soil moisture is too high. With a goal of preparing 18 to 20 hectares before the end of this month, the Panama crew has their work cut out for them!
After beating their target by planting 23.5 acres (9.5 hectares) in April, hitting their May goal shouldn’t pose a problem for this talented team. To help meet these goals while reaching even greater heights, the crew is excited to announce they’ll be utilizing drones to fly over the entire plantation every 10 days in order to analyze field size, topography, and even tell when plants are stressed.
Speaking of new equipment, obtaining a new tanker has boosted PGP’s efficiency by 100%! This tanker will allow the team to fill up to nine 3000L boom sprays per day, compared to only being able to fill four previously. The tanker will provide a massive time advantage by allowing boom sprays to stay in the field, while ensuring things don’t fall behind due to downpours.
The efforts of the 35 workers currently employed by the plantation will ensure success throughout the spring and early summer, but in July there’s a chance more help will be needed, with up to 10 people being added to the team if need be.
In addition to boosting the spirits of their own team, Panama Golden Pineapple is also sponsoring a local softball team and handed out jerseys earlier this month.
Ganaderia Pietrasanta (GP)
It’s also been a busy month at Pietrasanta now that the dry season is coming to a close. Cattle production is ramping up, while the coconut nursery was the first in the country to receive an official ICA certification! Not only is this huge for traceability purposes, but it also makes the farm the only source of exportable coconuts in Colombia. Likewise the tea is making strides towards the construction of our specialized teak sawmill.
Tropical Hardwood Sawmill
Now that the construction plans have been finalized, they have been submitted for approval by the Monteria Development and Planning Department, which should give us the green in light within the next two weeks.
Approximately 23,000 coconut seeds made it to the nursery this first quarter and, with an average 75% germination rate, we can expect nearly 43,500 trees in the ground by August or early September. The team is relentlessly working towards reaching their goals by following the strict planting schedule of an average 2,000 plants per week.
With coconut planting on schedule, it’s a great time to focus on additional projects. One major improvement was finishing the water reservoirs, which help ensure a steady supply of water regardless of season. The construction on the two reservoirs started back in January and both are now officially complete, with one of them already quite full!
In an incredibly exciting new development, Pietrasanta has launched a honeybee pilot program! Fifty hives are currently being constructed, with plans to immediately scale to 200 if successful. The potential for up to 800 houses throughout the farm is an exciting thought for down the road, as the bees will help boost production of the self-pollinating coconut trees.
If all goes as planned for Pietrasanta’s sustainable honeybee project, the goal is to support nearly 800 bee colonies. The honey produced by the bees will supplement the project’s current earnings and may even be used to completely replace cattle production.
I’ll be visiting Panama this weekend to personally take in the progress the team’s made, while also taking note of some experiments, such as a test with passion fruit, which may lend themselves to future investment opportunities.
This visit comes shortly after Paul and the PGP team met with Orlando Roja, a certified organic pineapple grower in Costa Rica, to explore the possibilities of organics at Panama Golden Pineapple. The trip was a great chance to view Orlando’s small, but incredibly efficient farm and learn about best practices.
During their visit to Costa Rica, the team was welcomed at Upala one of the top world producers of in the world where Paull was able to stand toe to toe with seasoned growers such as himself.
Looking to supplement the success of Farmfolio’s current projects, Operations Manager Oscar Baracaldo and I visited Argentina earlier this month and were pleased to find favorable conditions for potential expansions.
During the course, of the present year, Farmfolio has also visited Peru, Chile, and Spain to evaluate new projects and is also conducting due diligence for these locations before making a final decision as to our next offering. Next up in our calendar is is Mexico.
Visits to the Farm
That wraps up all the major moves for April-May 2018, but be sure to check out our current projects and stay tuned for more exciting updates coming soon!