Welcome to the jackfruit

Once you've seen the jackfruit, you never forget it. It's the biggest tree fruit in the world and it has a very peculiar shape. Chubby, stitchy and not attractive like so many other fruits. Why did we fall for the fruit to be added to our freeze-dried Adya fruits.

It was Mr. Sandeep, manager at Wayanad Social Service Society in Kerala, who told us during the Biofach trade show in 2015:

It just falls from our trees, we have so much jackfruit and nothing is done with it.
— Sandeep Kumar, Wayanad SSS

 

It was a first hint. If our local experts call for action, we can at least try to do something. What we needed to discover is whether jackfruit would work in freeze dried form. Especially for jack fruit it would be great to discard the fruit rests for local recycling (easily 10 kilo per fruit). Could we work with the essential fruit parts?

The cooperative did all the necessary tests and now in 2017 sent some samples to taste. It's small strips from the jackfruit interior. It definitely gives another taste and aroma then our other Adya fruits. With its odour the jackfruit announces that it's ready to be eaten. We clearly have a fruit boarded with vitamins and minerals. It also contains proteins, which has made it pretty popular as a meat replacement in several dishes (seen in the UK on food fairs). 

What do we like from our perspective? 

We act on a fruit that is available. We don't pack boxes with the whole fruit, that would be impossible. The cooperative processes the edible parts into small pieces and packs it in snack portions. Jackfruit has its say in our search for maintaining  global biodiversity. It adds so much to our palate. It does so for the Indian people.

Jackfruit falling from the Indian trees shouldn't go to waste. Indian initiatives picked up this sad waste story before, we now have our small contribution in it. 

We invite you to join usin embracing the giant jackfruit and try it out at home. Follow us for more news on the arrival of the jackfruit.

Jackfruit_Bangladesh_3.jpg

 

 

The monsoon and the bananas

We just received news from our partner Wayanad social service society. The freeze-drying of the Poovan bananas failed due to too much rain during the Monsoon (the early summer Monsoon in June). The plants got more rain then usual and didn't give banana fruits as expected. 

We mentioned the importance of the Monsoon for the food production in South-India before (see blog last year). Climate change is also happening here. Studies show a increase in Monsoon rainfall and in land temperature all the same. So due to the global warming and its effects on the land and the agriculture, crops also can change in quantity and quality. 

Two things are happening here.  

We get the decision from our partner in India and learn about their report and conclusion. They worry about quality and issues on our market. That is so much more important then the fact that we will be out of freeze-dried bananas for a few months. Yes, it is part of the natural game. This should be something natural instead of something hampering business and challenging partnerships.

What just happened is part of what Adya wants to achieve. Get this connection with the Indian agricultural community, allbeit far away and vague. It's tremendously important to pass on a message to people that are used to buy bananas in their grocery store or supermarket. 

 

The message is that it is not evident to have bananas in our stores every day. There is a great pile of bananas coming from mass plantations in bad shape. There is a much smaller part of the amount coming from sustainable and humane approach, demanding dedication and expertise
— Karl Vanderplaetse

The wheather now also affects more and more the crop quality. Our question to the cooperative now is how they agree on deliveries, quality and price with their members or other delivery partners that have to deal with a bad harvest. 

This all gives us more transparant information and a more detailed insight in the fairness we all want to see.

Mananthavady shop, Kerala, India

Mananthavady shop, Kerala, India

The road to Nam Ai

A small village called Nam Ai was our last stop in Ha Giang, Vietnam. Driving trough a postcard landscape in between rice paddies, water buffalo's and tea trees we found our new homestay. One we will never forget.

We are here to meet the Red Dao people. they are one of the over 50 etnic people in Vietnam. They mostly live in the Ha Giang region and up there in the mountains have specialized in rice paddies and Shan tea trees. It's the tea we're here for. As we decided to start a partnership with the Red Dao cooperative (it is called Fin Ho after one of the central tea villages), we felt the need to go out and see how the Red Dao manage their tea business...

The trip to the Red Dao villages and their tea plantations was organized with the Hanoi based Center for Rural Economic Development (CRED). They invest in local training and also provide visitors with guidance and translators. The visit opened our eyes. Visiting the communities made clear that cultivating tea is not easy at all. The tea trees are growing uphill. The acres each family owns are spread out over the hills. Sometimes the tea pickers have to walk for miles to reach their trees. They also cannot fill more than one basket of leaves a time. The roads to the cooperative factory are often muddy and bumpy. Only decent motorbikes can master these roads. Still, these conditions worry us but do not seem to stress our Red Dao friends. They're used to it, even when in summertime the roads are flooded and sometimes washed away.

We asked the CRED colleagues what we could do for the community. While we thought of a project for children they advised us to participate in a new motorbike road connection to the Nam Ai village. The Long Dressed Dao people there also bring in tea to the Fin Ho cooperative and have problems with their connection. This is the good thing. We didn't insist to have it our way, we followed the advise coming from the CRED and the feedback from the communities. This is a true partnership. 

This is where Adya at the end of the trip to the Dao communities was in the mud dragging sand bags uphill. Where we saw all villagers participate with their material. Men and women, old and young. Coaching each others and moving on really fast. The mud turned into a small road in a few hours time. It will take them 7 days for 1 kilometer.

We left Nam Ai village that morning driving next to a part of the new road. A road seems to be so evident in the West, but here it isn't. This small contribution from Adya and CRED is indeed covering something fundamental, the connection from tea trees to cooperative, but also a better connection from kids to school, from home to work, and so much more.

We will come back to Nam Ai one day and drive over this kilometer of new concrete road and always remember our first stay here. 

We wish the villagers of Nam Ai and the beautiful Ha Giang region all the best. We will continue our efforts to introduce the Fin Ho tea to the public and keep all our followers posted on our projects in the field.

Adya in Chile, part three

The third part of our trip was the most exciting. Early morning we were divided in small groups and got to meet other travellers, in our case fine colleagues from Sweden, Germany and Brazil trying to get a view on possible export products for their companies. 

This trip outside gave us a view on the Chilean spirit. We visited Garden of the Andes in the morning. They are a pretty big exporter of herbal teas and olive oil. We could get a scent of the tea during the presentation day, but now we were able to taste the tea close to where it is made. Again, all full and rich peppermint, rosehip and lavender infusions that are nothing like what we're used to. 

With this view on the terrace and hills beyond, perfect timing.

Mr. Luis then took us to the olive tree plantations. The workers started the first harvest of mainly Arbequina olives (Spanish roots). The harvesting starts when the olives start to colour light purple end of April and May. They are literally shaken off from the small trees. We see small plants growing around the roots of the olive trees and Luis brings out that especially cow manure is used as fertilizer now. The Chilean government also supports natural fertilizers and natural pest control. For years the olive plantations have been free from pest or other damage. The organic olive market in Chile is growing and export is encouraged. 

This first trip in a small group was the perfect introduction into Chilean products, entrepreneurship and gave us a first insight in their approach to organic farming and biodiversity. In fact, our questions to Mr. Luis on plant protection seemed to be easily answered. It's a normal approach, no?

We met the founders of the Cambiaso organic apple orchards in a valley nearby. This visit made me wonder how the Chilean apples find their way into the apple overwhelmed European market. Especially when we taste the same varieties as we see in Europe (Gala, Pink Lady, Braeburn,...) nevertheless we see dedicated people concerned with immigrants from other parts of Central and South-America finding their luck in this more prosperous country (see part 1 in this as well). 

Finally, further on the road back to Santiago we had the luck to visit the renowned Emiliana vineyards. A beautiful estate near the central road emerges from the dusty plains. We drive for one mile in between beautiful flowers and people 'reading' the endless vine rows. We are introduced to Pablo, a young passionate guide to the estate. This man will capture our Adya heart completely in an hour touring in between the vines. He combines stories about Chile, the local grapes and the smallest details in the Emiliana approach in biodiversity. We learn about the plants that accompany the vines and keep balance in soil quality and water supply. We learn about other plants attracting butterflies, bumblebees and ladybugs who in return keep control over unwanted vine leaves eating insects. We also meet the alpaca's, chickens and ducks who also have a say in the organic manure distribution!

This is what we were looking for. How do plants, animals and insects keep each other in balance and how to grow and produce in large quantities without disturbing that balance. Respect for the soil, natural life and environment seems almost evident here in Emiliana.

But just before concluding the visit with a taste of their wine, Pablo took us to a part of the estate where all employees can grow their own vegetables and fruits. It completes the sustainable and human image of Emiliana. It is exemplary!

 

This was our introduction to Chile. We will be back, and most importantly, we are looking forward to work with Chilean farmers and producers in the future, no doubt about that.