Hugo Carrillo Montero (’93, Costa Rica)
Hugo was part of EARTH’s pioneer class of students; an opportunity he credits with having transformed him from “the son of simple peasants” to a competent trilingual professional who has been able to educate his children and help his immediate family increase their standard of living.
“EARTH transformed me into a professional with more social and environmental conscience, greater competencies, adaptability, tolerance, and a stronger vision of collective wellness.”
During his third year at EARTH, Hugo did an internship with the British banana importer, Geest. The internship led to a job, part-time initially as Hugo completed his last year at EARTH and then full-time upon graduation. He later rose up through the ranks at Chiquita, before becoming the production manager for an independent banana producer in the Atlantic region of Costa Rica. There, he led the establishment of cost, productivity and quality control tracking systems, environmental controls, and ISO and Rainforest Alliance certifications. Under Hugo’s leadership the farm became the first independent producer to earn the EurepGap certification (GlobalGAP) and sell direct to a European client. He was also responsible for lowered costs, increased production, a 35% reduction in agrochemicals, and the highest quality ranking for five consecutive years.
He later joined Fyffes, a European tropical fruit importer, as the country manager for Costa Rica, and then later for Belize and Brazil. During his eight-year tenure in Brazil, Hugo led a variety of environmental and social achievements that earned the operation the 2014 GlobalGAP Award.
Today Hugo is the regional manager of organic and Fair Trade banana production for Fyffes’s operations in Latin America. He directly supervises the production and operations of five countries, which combined involve some 5,000 employees and small, independent farmers.
Empowered by the ethical leadership at Fyffes, Hugo works continually to mitigate their impact on the environment through efficient and responsible use of water, biodiversity protection, responsible waste management and the total elimination of chemicals in food production. He has also been at the forefront of hiring initiatives to ensure gender equality, and employ people with disabilities.
“My mission remains the same one as always, the one that I was entrusted with when I studied at EARTH. To transform the agriculture in our countries into one that doesn’t act against our environmental, economic and social well-being and that at the same time offers safe, healthy, affordable food and a profitable business for the small growers.”
His children and wife are all professionals—a doctor, engineer, and lawyer—which he believes is a direct result of the scholarship he received. It’s this recognition that motivated him to coordinate an EARTH scholarship from Fyffes for one of their farm workers in Brazil. The student graduated and is now a professional with the company.
“A scholarship for a young person who maximizes the opportunity correctly not only benefits that individual, but various subsequent generations. We are changing the world one at a time.”