UCHU spice and sustainable agriculture
Founded in 1967, UCHU Spice has given a tasty kick to global cuisines with their spicy pepper produce for years. Not only that, but they’re challenging intensive agricultural models by showing sustainable agriculture is not only needed but delivers better business. UCHU is a progressive leader driving a sustainable paradigm shift in the food industry, supporting smallholder farmers, local communities and biodiversity, while bringing high-quality pepper spice products to a global market.
Giving a spice of life to cuisines, communities, and nature
UCHU started in 1967, in Venezuela, as a family-owned agro-business growing peppers for export into the USA. Over the years, the company has expanded, operating throughout Peru and the Andean region. Today, UCHU Spice offers eight popular varieties of peppers, including several heirloom peppers, and others known for their unique flavor and heat profiles. UCHU’s business structure is based on contracting its raw material needs with over 500 smallholder farmers, supporting local livelihoods and ways of life. They also reinforce sustainable agricultural practices that complement Earth’s natural rhythms.
UCHU protects pepper plant species and supports local communities
Monocultures (single species) diminish natural diversity and upset the delicate ecological balance that supports life on our planet. Soils are diminished from nutrients, pest outbreaks and disease run rampant, and diversity dwindles as native species are pushed out from their natural habitat.
UCHU Spice has witnessed the impact of intensive agricultural design on pepper plant species. Many unique pepper varieties are disappearing due to industrial-scale cultivation. Once more, local communities are suffering. Smallholder farms are suffocated by agricultural giants who seize mass-market production techniques, which care little for long-term prosperity, nature, and local people.
UCHU is showing the world that sustainable agriculture is better
With years of experience, UCHU has specialized in high-quality production and processing of hot peppers, which are sourced from their network of smallholder suppliers. They not only supply popular pepper produce, but they also produce heirloom (plus other) specialist varieties. In doing so, they defend biodiversity by keeping heirloom peppers alive and preserved.
UCHU Spice operates as a role model, showing an alternative, proactive and sustainable approach to food production. They abide by strict agrochemical control programs and enforce Good Agricultural Practices. Operations have a lesser impact on crops with techniques such as crop rotation and alternative pest control solutions.
UCHU adopts a circular model for operations where possible. For instance, they transform organic waste into compost, which is then used to supply crops and greenhouses. Plastic waste is reduced as alternatives are used where possible. One example is UCHU’s bamboo planters – replacing plastic planters in their greenhouses.
Business sustainability is about meeting economic, social, and environmental needs, a balance that UCHU understands. For instance, operations support smallholder farmers, providing education to spread greener agricultural practices at an individual level, and improving the way cultivation is done by them. UCHU also offers transparent, fair, and guaranteed prices to these farmers, seeking to improve the economic livelihoods of local communities, who can generate additional income that complements sustainable farming practices. Plus all of this work is keeping an ancient food system intact. These are systems that have self-sustained over six thousand years. Yet today, these systems are threatened by the brunt of modern industrial agriculture. This highlights the importance of UCHU’s efforts.
UCHU Spice aims to continue to move in the right direction and accomplish truly sustainable products. It’s for this reason that they signed up for the Green Business Bureau. By following the Green Business Bureau’s EcoAssessment and EcoPlanner, UCHU can implement greener initiatives to support a sustainable business model. They continuously research and evaluate projects to communicate their green initiatives to the whole organization, making sure they’re aligned on a company-wide level.
“We love agriculture, from its origin to the community that surrounds it. We work with smallholder farmers to produce, adapt, and process hot peppers, always ensuring quality and food safety. With this sustainable growth model, we strive to have a positive impact on our community and thus become agents of change. – Paul Palacios, Chief General Manager at UCHU Spice