The spirit of ASD: Francisco Peralta, genius and personality

Possibly no one can be identified more with the essence of ASD than Francisco Peralta. His character, manners and commitment are an image that has been set in the minds of the majority of ASD clients, which is invariably linked to the spirit of the company: to be the best. This must be the case, since Peralta lived the birth and childhood of ASD, and now he reaps the fruits of having survived and actively participating in withstanding the company’s adolescence, turning it into a globally respected company in its maturity.

Much of Francisco's character (Chico to his friends) began to be shaped during his high school years at the Castella Observatory where his interest in art and music was born (in fact, he learned to play some musical instruments); but his enjoyment of the outdoors and strong physical sports is reflected when he joined his beloved Troop 5 of the Scouting movement in childhood. Here lies the source of his perseverance and the inspiration he received from Chester Paterson, an entrepreneur who devoted part of his life to encouraging the Scouting spirit among the youth of that era. In his eighties, this patriarch is still a source of motivation for Chico, as Chester remains physically and mentally active in leading his is companies.

Insigne (folkloric) dancing, mountaineering, soccer, tennis, fishing, mountain biking, all this and more has been practiced, not without success by Chico; and of course, we must be ready to listen to the thousand and one adventures that all this energy has generated over the years.

Francisco's relationship with oil palm began in 1981 when he was hired by the Oil Palm Research Program of the then United Fruit Co. (the initiators of palm cultivation in Costa Rica and the American tropics) to work in the areas of soil and nutrition. Then for a few years he worked directly with the plantations as head of the agricultural engineering department. It was in these years that the most important contribution of Chico to oil palm cultivation in the tropics was incubated: the verification of the importance of the physical characteristics of the soil to productivity.

Until that time, oil palm was considered 'the fly on the buttock of the elephant' (the elephant being the large banana plantations on the Pacific coast of Costa Rica). That small fly grew until completely replacing banana in 1982. ASD was founded in 1985, and Chico and Gerardo Alpizar were appointed to provide technical advice to those who would be the clients of the nascent company, which was separated from the operations of commercial oil palm plantations.

During all these years he has been the alleviation and guide for dozens of clients that have come to ASD in search of technical support in all areas, particularly in soils and oil palm nutrition. Of course, and after all, sometimes you feel that you can believe him (whenever he is fondly pointing out his most inner essence), since knows each and every detail of the cultivation of his life’s passion: the oil palm. The positive results of so many growers around the world who have followed his advice are testimony to that.

Francisco has been key in the success achieved by ASD in opening seed markets in the countries of Southeast Asia and Africa, and he cannot hide the satisfaction on his face when he recalls the moment when ASD managed the opening of the Indonesian market, which is now the most important in the world (Indonesia has taken the lead in area planted and as an oil exporter). Another great professional satisfaction was received during the recent PIPOC Congress, when the ASD 'stand' in his charge was chosen as one of the five best of the exhibition, and when it was publicly acknowledged that only ASD possesses and has generously documented the presence of compact genes. This is considered a milestone in the development of the oil palm industry, perhaps comparable to the documentation of the inheritance of the thickness of the shell.

Chico firmly believes that work 'is good for you', but when forces fail and the time comes to say goodbye to a life dedicated to helping oil palm growers around the world, something will be missing at ASD: it will be a part of the very essence of the company. However, and for a good while longer, we will have Chico and his convictions forming a part of the spirit of ASD.