By Ariadna Poey Sánchez, special for Flora and Fauna magazine
The Cuban mercantile society ALCONA, S.A. reaches its 25 years of creation with the harvest of numerous successes in its constant contribution to the economy of our country, its contribution to the preservation and development of nature, and with a renewed image in correspondence with new projections, structure and ways of doing within the company.
Belonging to the Flora and Fauna Business Group of the Ministry of Agriculture, in its beginnings, the company was established only to export fighting cocks, which were its first export, and it also served to adopt the name of ALCONA, because in Finca Alcona was the fence where the fighting cocks were raised.
About the beginnings of ALCONA, the founder Odalys Saíz Céspedes, director of Huma Resources of the Company, expressed that, at the beginning, the productions were commercialized through “ITH Cubanacán” and given the need of the National Company for the Protection of Flora and Fauna (ENPFF) to have its own exporter, it was decided to create ALCONA that, initially, had a staff of only six workers and the presidency of the Commander of the Revolution, Guillermo García Frías.
“ALCONA is my whole life”, the founder pointed out with great pride, and then highlighted the attention the Commander gave to the whole process of founding the company, as well as the privilege of working and learning from it.
ALCONA workers agree that these have been years of very hard work and effort, but that they have set themselves higher goals increasingly, in which many people have intervened to achieve the best results, sometimes anonymously.
Created on March 14th, 1995, ALCONA proposed an extensive program of celebrations that began with the launch of the Company’s Campaign at the XXXVIII Havana International Fair (FIHAV 2019). In this regard, MSc. Berkys Medina Urra, director of ALCONA, commented that they have developed various activities and with the campaign material they have tried to reach all clients and some producers.
ALCONA’s anniversary was the perfect incentive for them to decide to reactivate their image. In this sense, the company changed its old motto of “Commercializer of nature” for “We are part of the natural balance”.
The new slogan, as Berkys Medina said, is more in line with what the company really does, since its function as a marketer is not detrimental to the balance of nature. This is due to the fact that products such as horses, fighting cocks, pink flamingos, dolphins, tropical fish, pine resin and coal are not exported in a massive way, but in minimum quantities, as a result of the surplus, after making population studies and reproduction works that are developed in the protected areas; in which there is already the amount of specimens that are needed for the biological balance within the area.
ALCONA’s leading product is charcoal from marabou. Marabou arrived in Cuba as an invasive species, filled the fields and depressed the livestock; so many resources have been allocated to eliminate it, through an ingenious and very successful solution: making charcoal, which corresponds to the world’s trends to use renewable sources of energy. ALCONA has obtained very positive benefits in the export of charcoal and in 2019 led in the shipment of this product to abroad, as it exported 30,329 tons, contributing 9.9 million pesos to the country.
To achieve this result, the young Javier Montenegro Rivero, main specialist in the Operations Area, explained that they do not rest, not even on weekends practically; because they have to be in the constant checkup of when ships enter Cuba, the follow-up of coal and pine resin loads, and of the production in the different areas of the country. Besides, he emphasized that the company is not unaware of the situation of our country due to the economic and financial blockade; which demands them an extra from the workers.
The specialist concluded by thanking, with pride, the confidence and support of the company towards the youngest, as well as the possibilities of growth and improvement that they offer. This is one of the pillars of ALCONA as it completes its first quarter century of existence: the dedication of many workers who have intervened, over time, to obtain the best results.
The project undertaken by ALCONA 25 years ago, shows new and very profitable sales in the international market; and its economic contribution is reinvested in financing other projects of the Flora and Fauna Company itself, such as the preservation of natural protected areas in Cuba.
Regarding the projections for the future, Berkys Medina valued that ALCONA is in a stable position and has visualized where it wants to go. We only have to look for the mechanisms and links that are missing to promote new exports of goods and services and sales at the borders, improving the quality of the products in terms of branding, packaging, cold chains and packing. That is the goal.
Published in the magazine Flora and Fauna