Left to right: Dave Zeller, NAPI CEO; Vice-President Myron Lizer; Roselyn Yazzie, NAPI COO
FARMINGTON, NM – Navajo Nation Vice-President Myron Lizer visited Navajo Agricultural Products Industry (“NAPI”) on June 17 and met with Dave Zeller, Chief Executive Officer and Roselyn Yazzie, Chief Operations Officer.
Zeller provided Vice-President Lizer with NAPI’s COVID-19 Reconstitution Plan. The purpose of the plan is to provide guidance to NAPI’s workforce following the cessation of the Navajo Nation Department of Health’s Public Health Emergency Order (No. 2020-003). To date, NAPI has 293 employees and operating on a partial shutdown. Nearly a quarter of the employees are on paid administrative leave until July 5.
Vice-President Lizer was informed of the modifications made at Region 2 Scales, the store located on the farm. The store is operating on reduced hours and plans to gradually increase the hours within the next few weeks. The modifications made at the store are: segregating the sales of products, selling the forage per bale to reduce contact, providing a walk-up window for food and feed products, and posting plexiglass windows on the counters. The employees are given a health screening, are required to wear PPE, and must consistently and thoroughly disinfect their work area.
Zeller explained how the managers are focusing on the growth and production of their respective major crops – alfalfa, small grains, corn, potatoes, and beans. At the end of May, NAPI transplanted organic melons and squash. The Navajo Pride brand expects to expand with apples, peaches, cherries, blackberries, and Navajo tea by planting trials at the NMSU Agricultural Science Center, which is located on the NAPI farm.
The visit included the challenges endured by NAPI, which are caused by an extensive range of issues, such as: prairie dogs, crows, high wind, electrical shortage, drag racers, theft and the undeveloped blocks of 9, 10, and 11. Vice-President Lizer expressed his concern and interest to continue visiting NAPI to be aware of the farm’s progress and challenges.
NAPI is an enterprise of the Navajo Nation, charged with operating and managing a commercial farm on land held in trust by the United States for the Navajo Nation, under legislation authorizing the Navajo Indian Irrigation Project (“NIIP”).