From Tomina to Barcelona, bolivian oregano is gaining around

Pedro Rodriguez 13 November 2017

These days, a sense of pride pervades the 2,400 oregano producing families in Bolivia. For the first time ever, the fruits of their labour on their plots of land are travelling across the Atlantic. UNEC, their packaging and marketing company, has so far exported 45 tonnes of oregano to Spain.

“It’s a historic moment for us. This is a concrete result of ongoing efforts to optimize the quality of oregano and the hard work of farm families. It’s also the result of discussions and meetings at international exhibitions such as SIAL in Paris, an event that we participated in thanks to the support of SOCODEVI,” said Jesus Flores, Manager of UNEC.

Recognized for its very high quality, Bolivian oregano must compete with giants in the market such as Turkey. The main challenge for UNEC is to maintain the quality of its product while offering it at a competitive price. “Our goal is to reach highly demanding markets which know the fair value of the effort by our farm families and our traditional system of cultivation. We know that our product demonstrates excellence in terms of flavour, smell and colour characteristics, which sets us apart from the competition,” says Flores.

A Burgeoning Cooperative Enterprise
UNEC’s activities now span across 29 municipalities in five Bolivian departments (Chuquisaca, Cochabamba, Tarija, Potosi, and Santa Cruz). The company, created in 2005 with the support of SOCODEVI and belonging to the AGROCENTRAL cooperative network, produces more than 600 tonnes of oregano each year, exported mainly to Brazil, Uruguay, and now Spain. 

In 2016, after two years of work, the organization successfully completed the international organic certification process. Countries such as Germany and Australia have recently approached UNEC, opening up new market expansion for the company. With the support of SOCODEVI and the ongoing efforts of Bolivian cooperatives, thousands of farm families have tripled their income through the production of oregano, thus improving their living conditions.

Bolivian oregano sector in numbers

  • 2 400 farm families in 29 municipalities
  • Over 600 tonnes oregano per year
  • Over $3 million CAD in sales
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