IQF del Perú
The proposed expansion project consists of a loan to IQF del Perú S.A. of up to US$3 million with a term of up to 6 years. This IIC operation seeks to provide financing for increasing IQF’s asparagus planting capacity by 88 hectares, finishing the construction of an aqueduct from the Tacarara farm to the Santa Margarita farm, and buying equipment to optimize quality control at its finished product packing facility.
IQF del Perú grows, processes, and exports vegetables, chiefly asparagus, artichokes, and avocados. A leading worldwide producer, IQF has been planting, freezing, and exporting green asparagus, avocados, and artichokes for twenty years.
Environmental and Labor Issues:
Environmental Classification: This is a category III project according to the IIC’s environmental and labor review procedure because it could produce certain effects that may be avoided or mitigated by following generally recognized performance standards, guidelines, or design criteria. The main environmental and labor considerations related to the project are good agricultural practices; handling and application of agrochemicals; pest control; food hygiene and safety (third-party certification); solid (organic) waste and liquid effluent management; occupational health and safety; and other labor considerations.
EurepGAP Certification: IQF’s farms are EurepGAP certified, and the company has promoted certification among its supplier partners. One of the project’s goals is to foster good agricultural practices in IQF’s farms and continue to promote good agricultural practices among the suppliers. EurepGAP is a good agricultural practices protocol that also encompasses environmental and labor considerations. Good agricultural practices are understood to mean the processes involved in producing, processing, and shipping healthy, high-quality fruit, stressing the protection of the environment and human health by using the environmentally safest and most hygienic methods and rationalizing the use of pesticides.
Agrochemicals: IQF’s products are grown in keeping with U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and European Union standards for agrochemicals. On their crops, raw material suppliers use only agrochemicals that are permitted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The company provides all of its suppliers (both existing and potential) with lists of EPA-approved pesticides and a list of products prohibited by the European Union. To ensure that its suppliers use agrochemicals correctly, IQF visits their farms frequently; before the harvest it carries out an agricultural audit that includes a review of the log of agrochemicals used. Pesticide residues are also analyzed.
Integrated Pest Management: IQF has adopted an integrated pest management program through which it uses biological controls and cuts back on the use of pesticides. Among the biological controls used by IQF are 1) ethological control (using colored and/or chemical traps); 2) daily analyses of crop pests and diseases; 3) use of beneficial insects; and 4) limited use of pesticides, restricted solely to those that are in line with biological controls. IQF buys beneficial insects from specialized laboratories.
Quality Control / Food Safety: IQF has implemented a hazard analysis and critical control point (HACCP) system at its processing plants for identifying and minimizing all potential sources and points in the process at which food could become contaminated. The company received certification from AIB International, an international food hygiene and safety audit firm. IQF has a microbiological testing program for process water and for machinery surfaces that come into contact with food; the workers’ hands and gloves are also tested to detect any contamination (listeria, coliforms, E. Coli, and enterobacteria).
General Health and Safety: The farmworkers (including subcontractors) are provided with appropriate protective equipment, as well as with health insurance and first aid. Those who handle and apply pesticides are trained and provided with appropriate clothing according to the instructions on product labels, depending on the health and safety risks involved. The farms have washbasins with soap to protect the workers from exposure to agrochemicals after leaving the spraying area. There are also warning signs for farm areas that have been sprayed, in order to enforce the safety period for each pesticide that is applied.
To freeze its products, the company uses IQF (individual quick frozen) technology, with equipment that uses ammonia. The Ica and Chincha plants have systems to detect ammonia leaks and an alarm system, as well as personal protection equipment to be used in the event of a leak near the storage tank. Another commonly used substance is sodium hypochlorite, which is used as a disinfectant; it is stored in a locked, ventilated area. IQF’s industrial safety plan includes an emergency plan with evacuation procedures and there are specially trained personnel. Emergency exits and evacuation routes are well marked by signs. All plants have a nurse and a small health unit equipped to provide first aid. IQF employees, including farm workers, are checked regularly by a physician who works with the company, helped by a nurse.
Liquid Effluents: The company has septic tanks both at the Ica and Chincha plants and on the farms, for treating sewage. The liquid effluents from washing and cooling raw materials and continuous cleaning of the facilities is suitable for agricultural use and is used for irrigation at the Tacarara farm.
Solid Waste: The volume of solid municipal waste generated is not large; it is taken to landfills in closed bags. IQF is working with the municipalities involved to improve the municipal solid waste disposal system. All of the raw material waste (organic waste) is used as cattle feed and is thus not a solid municipal waste. The amount of hazardous waste generated is minimal because the company is decreasing its use of agrochemicals and is trying to use more biological controls to combat pests.
Cold Storage: IQF del Perú uses cooling systems without chlorofluorocarbons, which are banned because of their known negative effect on the ozone layer.
Labor Considerations: IQF complies with minimum working age requirements and prohibits forced labor. It also respects the freedom of association, the freedom to join labor unions, and the right to collective bargaining. However, its employees have not formed a labor union. In addition, EurepGAP certification requires that the workplace comply with local and national regulations as to work schedule and conditions, job security, retirement, and other legal and health requirements. IQF’s employees, both permanent and temporary, have life insurance, health insurance, sick leave benefits, and an interest-free emergency line of credit.
Oversight and Compliance: IQF will be required to implement an environmental management plan acceptable to the IIC. Throughout the project, the IIC will ensure compliance with its own environmental and labor review guidelines by evaluating monitoring reports submitted annually to the IIC by IQF.