- Viverista Estrella has been essential to improve quality and reduce production costs, says the entrepreneur.
In El Salvador, cocoa is a growing crop. The country is steadily closing the gap in the trade balance of this product, increasing planting areas and tripling its production in just 10 years. This growth has in turn generated demand for plants, becoming a business opportunity for entrepreneurs like Armando Arévalo, from Canuco, Sonsonate, who in 2019 and with the help of his family started his nursery.
Armando aspired to deliver good genetic material already grafted to clients, but it would not be easy. He was inexperienced in managing nurseries and soon there were problems with pests and diseases, whose management costs were so high that he even confesses, he thought about closing.
Viverista Estrella and a resurgence of the business
Fortunately, Armando did not have to close his nursery, because he found in the MOCCA training program, El Viverista Estrella, the knowledge to control pests, provide good management and successfully manage his nursery.
“With the MOCCA nursery promoter I have learned to make the products myself that I use to control pests, diseases, and fertilize plants,” says Armando. This has allowed it to reduce the cost of these activities almost by half (47%). “Before I spent US$720 on fungicides and fertilizers, now I make foliar insecticides and organic fertilizers and I only invest US$380 a year,” he says, satisfied.
The fungicides I make are: Bordeaux Broth and Calcium Sulfo. The fertilizers are: compost and Tropical and Super Magro foliar fertilizers. The training has completely changed the way in which Armando runs his nursery, who now focuses on preventive management, while at the same time he has incorporated the sale of fruit trees (supplying other components of cocoa in Agroforestry Systems) and ornamentals, with which he has increased its offer and diversified income.
MOCCA is a 7-year initiative funded by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) through its Food for Progress Program, which seeks to improve agricultural productivity and expand trade in agricultural products. The MOCCA project is being executed by a consortium led by TechnoServe. Lutheran World Relief leads the cocoa activities.
Technique and quality
Armando attributes the improvement in quality and the better price at which he sells his plants to the learnings from El Viverista Estrella. “Now I am growing a plant with more vigor and in addition to that it is already grafted. Before, I only produced rootstock plants, since I did not have the means to develop them. I sell the rootstock plant for $1.35, while the graft for $2.00, this increases my profit margin by $0.65 cents more per plant, although if the person only wants rootstock plants or by seed, they still get it, I will still offer them.”
Armando went from selling 900 cocoa plants in 2021 to almost 3,000 in 2023. The production of other plants in the nursery has also doubled: “Before, by selling cocoa plants in my nursery I already earned an income of $90 per month.” “There was little that was sold, this year’s sale was approximately $350 per month,” he says very happy.
A family business
This entrepreneur runs the nursery hand in hand with two women who are pillars in his life. His wife and his sister. Both receive a salary for the tasks they perform and all of this is part of the business management of the business. Efforts are remunerated and these salaries are accounted for within cost management. Before, his wife only dedicated herself to household chores, but with the nursery, she now has an income. She is in charge of watering, grafting and filling bags.
The future looks promising for this family, who, motivated by improvements in income, have decided to reinvest a good part in the nursery itself, installing a rooting chamber to develop fruit trees, “this will allow me to make younger grafts and thus shorten the times of the plants in the nursery, being more efficient and reducing my costs even more”