Agriculture company Upala Agrícola has thrived in the food production business for almost 13 years now. By adhering to four key pillars, the company has implemented farm management practices that has brought about positive impact to the environment, climate and the community.
The Upala Canton, located in the Province of Alajuela, Costa Rica, is home to one of the biggest pineapple farms that produce Golden Pineapples (Ananas Comosus), known for its sweet aroma and exquisite flavour. Upala Agrícola, an agricultural company that produces Golden Pineapples to be sold in markets in the United States and Europe, labels its pineapples under the Upala Gold brand. This is not only to honour the Golden Pineapples, but to also honour the Canton where they have dedicated 1,450 hectares for the production of this delicious fruit.
Certified by Preferred by Nature under the Rainforest Alliance Certification Programme, Upala Agrícola has four pillars that have guided them over the last 13 years. The principles practices generate a positive impact on the environment, the community, their operations, as well as their employees.
Pillar 1: Compliance with country legislation. As an employer within the area, Upala Agrícola seeks to be an actor that impacts the community through compliance with local legislation. Nearly all of their 850 workers are duly registered under the social security services. Their employees include foreign workers who have all the necessary permits to work for the company.
Pillar 2: Conservation of natural resources. One of their main goals is to promote the protection of natural resources through responsible agricultural practices. Upala Agrícola’s nursery currently has almost 200 species of trees, out of the 2,200 species that are currently present in Costa Rica. These trees, including species under threat like the Camíbar (Copaifera aromatica) or Mahogany (Swietenia macrophylla), are grown in the Ruta Los Maleku Biological Corridor and in the community, to reproduce and then to be transplanted. This contributes to the conservation and protection of the biodiversity in the area as well as the maintenance of water resources.
Pillar 3: Continuous improvement of its personnel. The company recognises the value of its employees, therefore it provides them with constant training to strengthen their skills, as well as additional support to cover their educational or health needs. Through its Social Responsibility Committee, the company seeks to provide quality educational services to the youth and children of the area and the families of their employees.
Pillar 4: Share its experiences both internally and externally. The company has a research and development area that explores the best ways to care for soil resource. Through one of these investigations and constant collaborations, they were motivated to disprove the theory that ‘the soil where pineapple is planted becomes unusable’. They worked with the State Phytosanitary Service, an annex of the Costa Rican Ministry of Livestock and Agriculture (MAG) and the National Institute for Innovation and Transfer of Agricultural Technology (INTA), to plant crops, such as papayas, beans, corn, cassava and various cucurbits, in a recently used pineapple plot.
The process was documented and the results revealed that the fruits planted in that plot could provide supply for the company's cafeteria. This shows that the soils planted with pineapple are not left infertile.
Featured photo courtesy of Upala Agrícola.