Gustavo Marún Ecuador

Maintaining a hundred-year family tradition in Ecuador’s plantations

"I keep everyone on high alert to prevent the spread of plant pests."

Gustavo Marún is a third-generation descendant of a Lebanese family who arrived in Ecuador at the beginning of the twentieth century and started working in the most iconic production of this Latin American country: a cocoa plantation of the Hacienda del Carmen in Los Ríos province, renowned for its cacao de arriba (literally, cocoa from the highlands).  

“That is when agriculture first planted its seed in my grandfather’s family tree,” Gustavo explains. “But it also unfortunately coincided with a devastating plague of Moniliophthora perniciosa – the fungus that causes witches’ broom disease in the cocoa tree. No phytosanitary measures were in place back then to protect plant health and, ultimately, farmers – so my family had to turn to a different occupation. But the second generation of the Marúns went back to cocoa plantations in the Hacienda La Elba in 1969.”  

Ecuador is one of the most fertile countries in the world and its production includes a large variety of fruits and vegetables. Cocoa production ranks among the highest in terms of value and accounts for most of Ecuador’agricultural exports. Gustavo’s family had to abandon cocoa cultivation due to the outbreak of witches’ broom disease and monilia but their passion for agriculture never died out. So, in 1973, they ventured into banana production and to this day have never regretted it. Gustavo is the proud owner of a very large plantation in the Los Ríos region, shipping thousands of tonnes of bananas around the world every year and providing a stable occupation to hundreds of families. 

Gustavo has been applying strict phytosanitary measures to ensure that what happened to his grandfather a hundred years ago does not happen again to his workers. “I keep everyone on high alert to prevent the spread of plant pests,” Gustavo says, “and I keep up with international standards for trade because I know that even the tiniest harmful organism can have devastating effects.”  

Experience has taught him that the most effective way of protecting plants is to prevent pests taking hold in the first place and he has been passing on this traditional knowledge to his descendants, who have recently ventured back into cocoa by producing their own chocolate brand.