NATURE’S GIFT

Ecuador 2012 | AGRICULTURE | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Roberto Nevado, General Manager of Nevado Ecuador, on producing roses for export, edible roses, and tourism potential.

Roberto Nevado
BIOGRAPHY
Roberto Nevado has been General Manager of Nevado Ecuador since 1996. He worked as General Manager of Nevado Realty from 1994-2007 and was a founding member of Naranjo Exportaciones in 1980. His work also includes serving as a Member of the Board for Expoflores in Quito, Ecuador from 2002-2012 and participation in the Union Fleurs in the Netherlands. He graduated from the Escuelo de Peritos Industriales in Madrid in 1961.

Nevado produces a total of 60 varieties of rose, among which the Red Intuition, Pink Intuition, and Gigi can be found only in Ecuador. What is the development process?

There is a difference between a mutation and a special rose. The Pink Intuition is a mutation of the Red Intuition. Say you have a greenhouse covered with red roses and one suddenly emerges sporting a different color; that is a natural mutation. Gigi is a mutation of another flower that we found on our farm. Mutations can occur in many different ways. Roses define themselves over the years. When Gigi started seven years ago it was a normal rose, but it has been improving over the years. It is an unpredictable process, and we leave it to nature. It took five years before we had a greenhouse dedicated to this plant. It is a very slow process.

What does the quality of Nevado's roses rely on?

The key issue for growing flowers is to have the highest possible luminosity in the best climatic conditions. In Ecuador, at an altitude of 3,000 meters, the conditions mimic those of a greenhouse, where it isn't too cold or too hot. In that respect, we get our quality from nature. However, there are particularities and we have the help of the sun and the altitude here. That is the main issue and that is 90% of the product. The rest is something you learn over time, but you cannot reproduce natural light intensity for free or generate altitude artificially.

How has gaining international accreditation from institutions such as the Fairtrade Foundation helped Nevado?

Certification is something that started about 15 years ago. It has changed the mentality of farmers. We have had fair-trade certification for 10 years, but we are starting to develop our own accreditation systems. Today we have very strong local certification, and the main markets have suddenly realized that it is something that should be performed domestically. We don't need the Europeans or the North Americans coming here telling us what to do. We should perform inspections ourselves as it is our responsibility to do things our way, according to the law. All certifications are based mainly and principally on local regulations. The national certifications will be stronger internationally in the next five years.

How important is innovation in the rose business?

Ecuador has well over 3,200 hectares of rose farms, the highest number of hectares in the world. We have 500 different varieties of roses, which is more than any other country. The importance of this is that you are always the one that brings new ideas to the market. The eyes of the Russians and high-end markets are on Ecuador to get the newest ideas, the best innovations, and the most spectacular products to the market. We have a rose that opens as a carnation. These things happen here. Why? Because of the strength and quality of our produce. If we have 500 varieties it means that we have 20 rose breeders with their eyes on Ecuador because they know that we are the biggest, the strongest, and we have the fastest development of new varieties. We have to give them new things constantly. Breeders have invested a lot in Ecuador over the last few years.