Ecuador is the country where the Natural Habitats story began. In 2009, our organic palm oil production was launched in Esmeraldas, Ecuador, with small farmers that believed in the benefits of organic agriculture. Over time, more and more farmers joined the Natural Habitats team, converting their farmland from conventional to organic, and in 2011, independent farmers joined the Natural Habitats journey, organizing themselves in the first organic producer association in Ecuador.
Today, over 129 small farmers and 150 small farms grow organic palm oil for Natural Habitats in Ecuador, and that number continues to grow as more farmers recognize the benefits of converting to organic. Our palm oil produced in Ecuador serves the US, South American and European food and personal care markets with a robust list of product offerings.
Hans van den HeuvelCountry Manager, Natural Habitats Ecuador
Hans van den Heuvel is the Country Manager for the Ecuador operations of Natural Habitats Group, overseeing all strategy and day-to-day operations of the South American division of the company. With more than 25 years work experience in Latin America, Hans is a senior professional with expertise in business management. Hans has held top management positions at multinational companies like General Electric, Mabe, Ceteco, Hagemeyer and HCI, and prior to joining Natural Habitats, Hans served as General Manager of General Electric/Mabe in Venezuela.
In addition to his many years of business experience, Hans is a dynamic professional with a positive approach to each and every day. He is enthusiastic, keen and pro-active, and brings great value to the Natural Habitats team.
Fernando DavalosEcuador Exports, Innovation and Strategic Operations Manager, Natural Habitats Group
Fernando is one of the firsts employees of Natural Habitats Group. He is now the Exports, Innovation and Strategic Operations Manager of Ecuador.
He brings to Natural Habitats more than 20 years of international experience in banking and business development.
Fernando is responsible for generating and prioritising a flow of innovative opportunities of high potential interest to the Ecuadorian operation in current core business areas, strategic partnerships and new potential markets. He is also responsible for all added value, strategic operations, and exports.
His project management, finance, and venture capital knowledge together with his strong communications skills allows him to identify optimal deal structures, participate in deal negotiations, and steer deals through approval processes and to closure.
He is an Ecuadorian and Spanish national who has lived and work in different continents for several years, making him knowledgeable of different cultural organisational styles; allowing him to convert cultural differences in business opportunities.
Richard Jácome V.Finance Director at Natural Habitats Group, Ecuador
Richard is a senior professional with over 15 years of experience in management of administrative, financial and internal control areas. He has worked in high named multinational companies and participated in mergers & acquisitions and joint ventures processes at international level. Richard is a dynamic professional, proactive and focused on creating value in the activities he performs. In addition, Richard has experience in strategic business consulting in several Central American countries and has worked in regional management positions in some South American countries. Richard is a personal finance coach and enjoys university teaching.
Armando García CruelSustainability Manager, Ecuador
Armando currently serves as Sustainability Manager for EXTRANATU S.A. In Ecuador, where it develops and executes plans aimed at achieving sustainability, resulting from a balance between the company’s production processes and the protection and conservation of the environment.
With 13 years of experience in the sector of the conservation of species of flora and fauna, Armando has held positions of Public Sector, as coordinator of sustainability projects for the fishing sector in the province of Esmeraldas, was responsible for the socio-forest program in the Province of Esmeraldas and Manabí, he served throughout his profession as an environmental consultant in the Province of Esmeraldas diagnosing, evaluating and mitigating through management plans the environmental impacts of multiple projects in the fields of Health, Mining, Agriculture, Potable Water and Sewage, Livestock, Fishing and Tourism.
Armando is specialized in systems and geographic information, is an accredited auditor in occupational safety and health, and an expert in environmental regularization processes.
Arturo Arévalo PatiñoProduction Manager, Ecuador
Arturo is an expert in the process of oil extraction with over 25 years in the palm oil industry. He has worked as a plant designer, assembly and commissioning, and has much experience in various palm oil products, including palm kernel oil. He specializes in the design of palm processing and manufacturing plants, effluent treatment systems and composting systems (controlled decomposition of solid and liquid waste from the oil extraction process). Additionally, he is an expert in steam handling and pumping systems.
Arturo has worked across South America, including Colombia and Ecuador, and has formalized and coordinated working groups in maintenance and extraction process of crude oil of African palm. Arturo attended the National University of Colombia and has a Mechanical Engineering degree.
In Ecuador there are over 120 organic small farmers representing over 150 small farms that have partnered with Natural Habitats group. These farmers have dedicated their land to producing organic palm oil using only organic agricultural practices, free from chemicals and conventional methods, and are aligned with the values, beliefs and principles of Natural Habitats Group.
The organic farmers we work with not only comply to all of our third party certifications, including organic, RSPO, Fair for Life, Non-GMO Project, and soon Rainforest Alliance, they are paid a premium for the organic fruit they produce and are supported through the many social programs that Natural Habitats Group employs, including support of local schools, a medical doctor, and continuing education.
Natural Habitats continues to grow the number of farmers that participate in our organic palm oil collection in Ecuador, and the group continues to assist small farmers in converting their land from conventional to organic, a process that not only positively impacts the environment and farmer health, but also the economic opportunities of the farmers that earn a premium for complying with the Natural Habitats organic standards.
In addition to working with small farmers, Natural Habitats Group has formed partnerships with larger palm operations in Ecuador, guiding the conversion of conventional palm production to organic, helping to improve the overall palm industry in Ecuador and beyond.
Natural Habitats has formalized an innovation JV with La Fabril, a leading palm oil R&D facility in Manta, Ecuador. Natural Habitats has innovation capabilities above and beyond any other organic palm oil supplier, and is leading technology in organic palm oil processes to bring new and unique products to market.
To learn more about La Fabril, visit http://www.lafabril.com.ec
Natural Habitats Group is leading organic palm oil production in Ecuador through expanding reach of organic agriculture. The Group is always striving for continuous improvement, and is focused on the following areas:
Local Partnerships: Natural Habitats Group currently operates in many areas across the Country of Ecuador, and has formed partnerships with local producers, mills and refinery to scale organic palm oil production and create a positive impact in the palm oil industry.
Third Party Certifications: To ensure Natural Habitats Group organic palm oil complies with the highest standards, we have a team of agronomists continuously working with our farmers to comply with and exceed our third party certifications – organic, RSPO IP, Non-GMO Project, and Rainforest Alliance, to name a few.
Additionally, Natural Habitats has partnered with other local Ecuadorian palm oil producers to guide and provide expertise on gaining RSPO certification, and is helping to encourage the conventional palm oil industry to comply with third party standards, elevating the industry at large.
Social Projects: Natural Habitats supports a number of social projects, going above and beyond our third party certifications, demonstrating that a Palm Done Right approach is good for the environment, as well as the local communities where palm oil is grown. Some of the social projects Natural Habitats implements on the ground include support of local schools, soccer teams and traditional culture events, employing a medical doctor and social worker. Additionally, Natural Habitats donates ~1% of profits to three organic farmer associations to allocate the funds to social programs that make a positive difference in their areas.
Through community support and empowerment, Natural Habitats aims to improve the livelihood of everyone in the supply chain, and demonstrate that organic palm oil is a very sustainable and supportive crop for local communities.
Quality Assurance: Natural Habitats Group is dedicated to providing the highest quality, organic palm oil possible, and has made significant investments in the supply chain to ensure the highest quality controls we can.