By Fred Alejo, VP of Sales & Sustainability
I traveled to India a few months ago to share High Quality Organic’s (HQO) knowledge of organic farming and meet some of our suppliers.
The first week was spent with the Ker International Herbal Fair where the Ministry of Forestry in India sponsored HQO to attend and help their over three million farmers with sustainable wild collection practices. Unlike in the United States – and most developed countries – many of the crops in India are grown in the wild and harvested by village people. However, most of these collectors have never received formal training on sustainable harvest practices. The result has been approximately 30% of the plants on the verge of extinction. With our global network and agriculture knowledge, we were able to share some simple practices that can easily help preserve and allow the wild crops to thrive in India.
The second part of my visit was meeting a world-class supplier; one of our number one suppliers. They grow birds eye chili pepper, turmeric, Arabica and robosta coffee in Karala. Below are some pictures from my tours of the nutmeg and pepper plantations.
I also had the opportunity to view the turmeric crop. It looks amazing!
My last day in India was spent traveling to Minora, a place very similar to the Sonoma Valley of California. There I visited several tea gardens varying in age from one to 180 years old. There they pick their tea using the parameters, 2 leaves and a bud.
This was my first time in India and it was eye opening. I not only learned to invest in more moisture-wicking shirts, I also developed an amazing respect for the knowledge our Indian farmers have. Despite India emerging as a nation, their knowledge of agriculture is, in a lot of ways, extremely developed. For example, they call plants by their botanical name and could tell you more about them than almost any Wikipedia page could.
Our growers in India have been partners with HQO since the beginning. This trip reaffirmed why we work with them: their passion for preserving the land and providing the best quality products possible. It’s clear they will be valued partners for generations to come.
Fred Alejo has been with High Quality Organics since February 2011 and leads the rapidly growing organic ingredient company in sales and sustainable initiatives. Prior work experience includes Rembrandt Foods, Dole Fresh Vegetables and the United States Army. Fred is the proud father of three children and spends his time outside work coaching football, skiing and training for triathlons.