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Apicoop, honey and blueberries, Chile (producer)

Shared Interest was one of the first organisations to lend to Apicoop to upgrade facilities for their honey processing in 1997.

Since then, General Manager Chino has steered Chilean co-operative Apicoop, through some life-changing challenges, including diversification from honey into blueberries, and more recently a volcanic eruption that wiped out a substantial amount of their crop and could have been fatal to some of the bees they so lovingly nurture. 

General Manager, Chino, said:

"Our business is not really about honey or blueberries. It is about people. Producers are now sending their children to university, to see this as a result of the income from honey and blueberries is the true meaning of success.”

Honey, blueberries and dreams

Chino faces any hardships head on, explaining that they are a way of life. Chino says: “We lost 500 hives in the latest volcanic eruption, which is a significant number for the beekeepers in the area of Southern Chile. Luckily because we are a co-operative, we don’t just rely on one area for production.”

With 28 permanent employees and 400 seasonal blueberry pickers to oversee, there is no time for sadness or hesitancy, he explains:

“What must follow is hard work and perseverance to get things back in order. Yes, by the end of the season they have lost bees, hives and honey production, but the co-op will sort out a plan. The solution we found was to pay the beekeepers in advance for next year’s crop. They belong to a family; there is no need for them to feel alone.”

Apicoop farmers diversified into blueberry production a decade ago with Shared Interest loans in 2007 and 2008 providing funding for the project. Another loan followed to buy machinery to help with packaging.

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