Cultivation in Ecuador
According to data from the Corpei, commercial palmito cultivation began in Ecuador in 1987, but the development of agribusiness, dedicated to canning and bottling, began in 1991.
It currently represents 1.7 percent of non-traditional exports, 13 percent of exported fruit and vegetable products and 27 percent of fruit and vegetable processed exports.
Production in the area
Santo Domingo and the cantons of the Northwest of Pichincha are considered as the largest palm heart producing area of Ecuador. Inaexpo C.A. sits here (Industria Agrícola Exportadora) founded in 1993 by the company Pronaca.
Rolando Gutiérrez, plant manager of Inaexpo, indicated that the company is currently the world’s largest exporter of heart of palm and occupies the first place among the exporters of preserves in the country.
According to the publication of magazine Gestión, of July 2006, Inaexpo is in the 29th position among the Ecuadorian exporters of the private sector.
One of its strengths is that the company manages the complete production chain, from seed selection to cultivation, through industrialization and reaching the market with the largest commercial network in the sector.
Producers are associated
At the moment there are 5 thousand hectares cultivated in the region, among those that are owned by Inaexpo and the integrated ones. The latter belong to a total of 122 producers, with whom a guaranteed and long-term purchasing contract is signed, which also includes a technical assistance system for crops.
An important aspect is that from 2005 on, the company is introducing a variety of spiny palm plant, exclusive to the company, product of its research and development work.
This variety is replacing the wild one (with thorns) and has allowed, according to the Plant Manager, to improve production, since a nursery with low mortality (95 percent) is guaranteed when the plant is moved to the field, while the wild that figure reached 50 percent.
The difference is also noted in the yield, because with the variety without spine a stem of up to 90 cm long is obtained, while with the other it does not exceed 70 cm.
And, most importantly, it allows a productivity per hectare of 8 thousand stems per year.