Monday, September 26, 2011

Volunteer Lays Foundation for US - DR Market Linkages

Mr. Delemarre observes greenhouses at harvest time
Often times finding new markets nationally and abroad can be difficult for farmers. Farmer to Farmer has recently had the opportunity to work with a marketing specialist who has answered the call to help farmers begin to bridge this gap in the Dominican Republic.

Robert Delemarre had volunteered previously with the USAID Farmer to Famer Program in Southern Russia, and this past July and August he applied his expertise in the Caribbean by participating in an assignment with Partners of the Americas’ FTF Program in the Dominican Republic.

His schedule was unique compared to the typical FTF agenda. His first few days were spent in Florida obtaining information from import - export companies. He sought to answer the following questions: What products do the companies already import/export? Would they be willing to establish relations with the Dominican Republic? What products are the companies interested to import? What grade standards do they follow? What are the food sanitation regulations that the company requires? This information is highly important for farmers to have when seeking future relations for business because it allows them to put measures in place in advance, so they can meet standards, and because this information is not always easy for farmers to obtain.

Cold Storage Facility Tour
During the 16 days of his trip, Mr. Delemarre visited greenhouse clusters while providing multiple presentations throughout the week. While traveling from greenhouse to greenhouse, he saw beautiful crops that had much potential for profit. However, farmers often face the effects of poor postharvest infrastructure which prevent them from preserving the quality of the product by the time it reaches the market. Still, he found reason for hope.

On the 10th day of travel, Mr. Delemarre was brought to visit a brand-new, state-of-the-art Cold Storage Facility in Constanza. The building has 8 separate cold storage chambers and room for 8 more. The same owner also has another facility in Santo Domingo with another one on its way just outside Santo Domingo.

Mr. Delemarre shares information on export market standards
Along with the quality of storage facilities, Delemarre observed that many farmers were producing the same crops resulting in competition between farms. He recommended trying other crops that are in demand like broccoli, cauliflower, Brussel sprouts, strawberries and more, as well as working toward certification and meeting Eure-Gap or Primus Labs requirements. These certifications aim to reduce potential spread of listeria and E. coli.

The overall objective is two-fold, helping farmers supply higher quality produce to local markets and also reaching higher-value export markets. Currently there is export potential for peppers, cucumbers, pineapples, cantaloupe and honey melons, avocado, and papaya. With improved post-harvest procedures, clusters of medium- and small-scale farmers in the Dominican Republic have a great deal of opportunity to market their produce locally and also internationally.

1 comment:

  1. I couldn't be more thrilled to read about this! How exciting!