This is the third in a series of posts following our involvement in Simply Natural, an agricultural investment located here in Panama. The earlier posts are found here:
Mangos, Money and More – https://jkeithhowie.com/2015/03/02/mangos-money-and-more/
Mangos, Money and More – Chapter 2 – https://jkeithhowie.com/2016/03/17/the-simply-natural-lady-victoria-mango/
Today is Sunday, 23 October 2016 and we are back in Panama. Today I am shooting the Simply Natural organic Plantation once again. I last was there in March of this year, only eight months ago and I am curious to see what changes are in place. The one thing that is constant about this organization is that they are always moving forward. This time I am shooting for Simply Natural Investments.
When we first found out about this opportunity to buy into an Organic Mango Plantation, there were only a couple of hundred hectares available to investors. The whole plantation was only 525 hectares when we started. In March of this year, this had grown to about 1,800 hectares in Panama. The largest organic plantation in Panama is around 2,200 hectares. Today, the Simply Natural footprint covers almost 4,000 hectares in six countries.
After our three-hour westbound bus ride over the Interamerican Highway, we arrived at the plantation site in an agricultural area just a few minutes west of Penonome, the geographic center of Panama.
On arrival, once again, I am surprised by the growth progress of the trees, both Mango and Neem, even since March. The tour covered familiar ground. As in other tours, investors listened intently to the explanations of what they were seeing and asked many questions. Here are three shots, from a similar angle, of the plantation in March of 2015, March 2016, and October 2016.
While we were primarily interested in the Lady Victoria Mango, note that there are other Organic fruits being produced by Simply Natural at this site.
When we arrived at the newly expanded on site nursery, we found that there were around 500,000 plants in the facility. This is a substantial increase since our last visit in March. All the fruit trees are grafted and spend around 18 months in the nursery, where they are fed and tended to more efficiently than if they were planted directly in their permanent locations. We received an example of how grafting is performed. Here are some shots of the grafting process.
Mango trees need around 50 feet of space between them. As a result, there is lots of room to grow other complementary products. This intercropping contributes specific nutrients to the soil that the Mangos need . Choice of the intercropping plants is based on many things, like the size of the plant compared to the current size of the Mangos. As the Mangos get larger, intercropping uses materials that are larger as well. We saw intercropping in place using Plantains, a relative of the Banana.
As this plantation matures, its beauty grows. Our investment was in February of 2015 and we will be expecting our first payment, for intercrop sales, in January of 2017.