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Organic-Fair Farming HAND IN HAND-Partner

Where the desert greens

HAND IN HAND partner Topará creates an oasis in Peru with organic and fair-trade pecan nuts 

Ecological diversity and jobs in the Peruvian desert - this is what the socially committed family business Topará has created. The main focus of the Rapunzel HAND IN HAND partner is the export of organic, fair-trade pecans - the nuts that are related to the walnut.
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When you leave the town of Chincha on the Peruvian coast, you will find yourself in the desert. But between bare mountains, 20 kilometers from the Pacific Ocean, a green, forested valley opens up. This is the place where Rapunzel's fair trade partner Topará cultivates organic pecans.

"More than 20 years of organic production have created a unique ecological balance on our fields," explains Stefan Bederski, son of the founder and managing director of the fair trade-certified company. But not only nature benefits from the company. For the people of the dry region, Topará is an important and socially committed employer.
Pekannuss
Pekannuss
Topará in brief
  • Family-run company with nearly 125 employees, ore than half of whom are permanently employed
  • Cultivation, harvest, processing and export of organic pecans in the region Ica, Peru 
  • Founded as agricultural family business in 1970, reorganized as Agroexport Topará SC in 1995, organic certification since 2000 
  • Cooperation with Rapunzel since 2008, HAND IN HAND partner since 2011

An oasis is developped

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In 1969, Klaus Bederski, a German emigrant, bought 100 hectares of abandoned and uncultivated land in the Valle de Topará, about 200 kilometers south of the Peruvian capital Lima. On the land, he planted pecan trees, which were unknown there at the time.

In combination with a spring that Bederski had discovered, the climatic conditions were in fact perfect for pecan cultivation: warmth, a certain amount of year-round water, but no excessive humidity in the soil.
In 1985, the pioneer established on his land the first nursery for pecan trees, but also other for native plants in the region. Today it covers about twelve hectares and is one of the leading nurseries in the whole country. In 1995, the family created the company Agroexport Topará SAC. This was the first time the family business exported pecans from the Valle de Topará.

Today, Stefan Bederski, son of the founder, continues the business in the spirit of his father and has developed Topará into an exemplary, fair-trade certified organic company.
"The Topará Farm was founded in 1970 out of a dream to turn the desert area on the Peruvian coast into a green landscape," explains Stefan Bederski. "The love of nature has been the basis of our work from the very beginning. Over time, our dream has evolved into a well-known oasis - where tradition, culture, nature and modern science meet."

Rapunzel has been sourcing pecans from Topará since 2008, and three years later the company became HAND IN HAND certified.
The Topará tree nursery – an oasis in the Peruvian desert
The Topará tree nursery – an oasis in the Peruvian desert
The Topará tree nursery – an oasis in the Peruvian desert
Organic pecan trees are the focus of the fair-trade certified company Topará.
Organic pecan trees are the focus of the fair-trade certified company Topará.
Organic pecan trees are the focus of the fair-trade certified company Topará.
Pecans shortly before ripening. Unlike the related walnut, their shells are smooth and soft.
Pecans shortly before ripening. Unlike the related walnut, their shells are smooth and soft.
Pecans shortly before ripening. Unlike the related walnut, their shells are smooth and soft.
"From our point of view, Topará is an extraordinary partner with whom we trustfully cooperate at eye level," knows Rapunzel employee Veronika Schmölz, who is responsible for the HAND IN HAND certification.

"Even before their HAND IN HAND certification, Topará already met many of the criteria. And also as a HAND IN HAND partner, they are always working to fulfill the criteria as best as possible and to continue growing together with us."
Topará, by the way, was named after an ancient Indian culture from pre-Columbian times - a forerunner of the Nazca culture with its world-famous, gigantic geometrical drawings in the desert of Peru, the so-called Nazca lines.

What makes Toparás organic pecans so special


Topará's main business is the export of organic pecans; in addition, the company also cultivates avocados, ají chilis, purple corn and lucuma.

The pecan plantations occupy about 50 hectares. They exclusively host pecans of the Stuart variety (Cary Illinoinensis wangenh.). This variety has adapted particularly well to the geographic and climatic conditions of the Valle de Topará.
The pecan tree belongs to the walnut family and originates from the Mississippi River basin in North America. It grows to a height of about 30 m and develops a very large, spreading crown.

Topará grows the seedlings in its own tree nursery and then transplants them into the organic pecan garden. In this way, individual old trees are continuously replaced by young ones.
Water reservoirs allow for an efficient and careful use of water all year round.
Water reservoirs allow for an efficient and careful use of water all year round.
Water reservoirs allow for an efficient and careful use of water all year round.
Irrigation after the harvest.
Irrigation after the harvest.
Irrigation after the harvest.
The Topará farm is located in the geographical dry region of the Peruvian coast. On the sandy soils of the Valle de Topará, it is essential to improve the water-holding capacity of the soil. Otherwise, irrigation would be inefficient.

In order to build up the soil, Topará applies compost and works weeds, leaves and green material into the soil. This creates an organic layer on the soil that can better store water before it seeps or runs away.
In order to use scarce water resources from their own wells and river water from the Andes carefully and sparingly, Topará uses water retention basins to ensure a year-round water supply for the pecan trees.

When the pecans have reached full maturity between June and August, employees shake them from the trees and pick them from the ground by hand. Next, the nuts are washed, sun-dried, mechanically cracked and shelled and, if needed, manually reworked.
The pecans are thoroughly processed directly on the premises.
The pecans are thoroughly processed directly on the premises.
The pecans are thoroughly processed directly on the premises.
On their way to Europe! A truck transports a batch of HAND IN HAND pecans to the nearby container port.
On their way to Europe! A truck transports a batch of HAND IN HAND pecans to the nearby container port.
On their way to Europe! A truck transports a batch of HAND IN HAND pecans to the nearby container port.
Employees who were trained for many years carry out this careful processing by hand and with special sorting machines. The cleaning of the pecans is done with air pressure. Subsequently, the nuts are sorted and gently dried again before being packed airtight for export.

Rapunzel sources both pecan halves and cracked pecans from Topará - both are equally tasty.

Fair business for a future fit for grandchildren


Almost 70 employees are working full-time at the Topará farm. They are busy planting, fertilizing and watering the pecan trees, they take care of the  processing and packaging and the related administrative tasks. During the main season, about 55 seasonal workers complement the team for harvesting and processing. All employees are covered by social security and receive wages that are well above the local average and the national minimum wage.
Topará has been a HAND IN HAND partner of Rapunzel since 2011. With the help of the Rapunzel HAND IN HAND premium, the pecan supplier was able to realize a number of social measures.

These include the construction of modern sanitary facilities on the farm, free accommodation for employees who live further away, and the construction of a sports field. 
Topará set up a staff canteen and subsidizes the food that is served there. As a matter of course, the employees' children attend a school.

Another major step was the establishment of a health station equipped with solar panels. Weekly visits by a doctor greatly improve access to medical services. For the employees, the examination is free of charge and at the same time the health station is used by people from the entire region.

With the HAND IN HAND premium, Topará built a staff canteen.
With the HAND IN HAND premium, Topará built a staff canteen.
With the HAND IN HAND premium, Topará built a staff canteen.
Employee party at the Topará sports field.
Employee party at the Topará sports field.
Employee party at the Topará sports field.
For the future, Topará has set itself ambitious goals. These include reforestation projects in the surrounding area, the conversion of the farm to alternative energy sources such as solar energy, and continuous training of the employees.

With these measures, the company wants to secure the future of the farm, the harvests as well as the future of the fair jobs.  
"We maintain ourselves as a social family farm," summarizes Stefan Bederski Topará's motivation, "and we believe that organic farming is not only possible for our farm, but even necessary to provide secure livelihoods for future generations."

HAND IN HAND products


Pecan nuts HAND IN HAND
Pecan nuts HAND IN HAND
Pecan nut pieces HAND IN HAND
Pecan nut pieces HAND IN HAND

Recipes with fair-trade HAND IN HAND pecan nuts


Candied pecan nuts with cranberries on a bed of spinach leaves with a toasted sesame dressing
Candied pecan nuts with cranberries on a bed of spinach leaves with a toasted sesame dressing
Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Quinoa and Cranberries
Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Quinoa and Cranberries
Popcorn with pecan nuts and semisweet chocolate
Popcorn with pecan nuts and semisweet chocolate
Pecan pie with spicy Christmas cookie ice cream and amaretto sauce
Pecan pie with spicy Christmas cookie ice cream and amaretto sauce
One Pot Blondies
One Pot Blondies
Lupine balls with garam masala
Lupine balls with garam masala
Cheesecake with Lime and Vanilla
Cheesecake with Lime and Vanilla
Roasted pumpkins stuffed with wild rice, pecan nuts and cranberries
Roasted pumpkins stuffed with wild rice, pecan nuts and cranberries
Brownies, klassisch oder vegan
Brownies, klassisch oder vegan
Espresso brownie with coconut cream
Espresso brownie with coconut cream
Spiced Pear walnut cake
Spiced Pear walnut cake
Chocolate bars of puffed rice, Pecan nuts and coconut chips
Chocolate bars of puffed rice, Pecan nuts and coconut chips

More topics

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