Singaporean pursuing his Peruvian dream
S'poreans whose jobs have taken them to interesting places
Mr Keat Chanmoved to Lima, Peru, about two months ago.
There, he manages two farms owned by Superlife Co., a Singapore company that sells natural and organic superfoods online.
The farm grows produce like maca, chia seeds and quinoa, which then are sold by Superlife Co.
A typical day sees Mr Chan, 30, managing 10 Peruvian farmers - who don't speak English.
Making the move to Lima was a tough decision as Mr Chan, he admits, especially since he didn't speak a single word of Spanish just weeks ago.
But armed with just a mobile phone language app, he has managed to pick up the lingua franca.
He says: "After being exposed to the language every day, I can now get by travelling around on my own. I can even hold a conversation with some hand signs."
He adds: "It was rather scary moving here since I come from the safe city of Singapore. My friends and family were worried as I had a friend who was robbed in Peru a year ago while on vacation.
"I did have some concerns but my mantra is 'nothing ventured nothing gained', and now, I'm so glad I ventured.
"The main difference is the change in pace. We're used to moving fast and doing everything in the shortest time possible. In Peru, everyone is very laid-back, which takes some getting used to."
Mr Chan says he was inspired by his own passion for superfoods. And through his own reserach, he learnt about how the ancient Incas were known for cultivating salt, quinoa and maca.
"The (Peruvian Andes) has fertile land with fresh water from the peaks. This makes it the best place to grow crops. The high altitude ensures there isn't a pest problem, so pesticides aren't typically used," he says.
While he says the move has been worth it, there have been sacrifices.
"I miss my elderly mother and grandmother... But living in Peru has definitely broadened my world view," he says.
There have been other challenges too.
"The hardest challenge is making sure business relations are trustworthy to ensure things run smoothly."
He has had delayed orders, shipments that left without the right documentation, wrong packaging and many other "disasters" - things that perhaps taken for granted in super efficient singapore.
"That is why there is a need for a strong physical presence in Peru, so we can oversee every step of the process to avoid unnecessary complications," he says.
So what does his job entail?
Mr Chan is very involved in the farming. Even when the sun is out, he is out in the fields, digging and ploughing.
"I try to do a bit of each process to understand how the farmers do it and the problems they face.
" That way, I have a better handle on things.
"Climate change has complicated the average farmer's life quite a bit.
"Unpredictable weather patterns make it difficult to plan the sowing and harvesting schedule."
But farming has its rewards.
"When you look at the land and see it well-ploughed, there's a sense of satisfaction. The tangible rewards are when you reap in a good harvest," he says.
"I have made many good friends while in Peru. I've seen indescribable beauty in the mountains and the jungle."
He adds: "Working with farmers has shown me how happy a simple life on a farm can be.
"This has strengthened my belief that there is greater value in developing relationshipscompared to material possessions."
After a long day's work, Mr Chan says he now unwinds with a pisco sour, a South American cocktail.
Sometimes, he visits the farmers who work at other farms.
He says: "I see them as colleagues... After spending a day with them, I would pick up bottles of their favourite Inca Cola soda to thank them for a hard day's work."
- Additional reporting by Charlene Chua