Friday, August 12, 2016

Organic Certification from Hawaii to Guatemala

Rincon Grande Farming Operation
F2F volunteer Colehour Bondera recently traveled from his home in Hawaii where he owns and operates a certified organic vegetable farm to complete an assignment in the Central Highlands of Guatemala. Mr. Bondera worked with agribusinesses to clarify the path to organic certification for mixed vegetable and fruit production operations near Antigua and Guatemala City.

In addition to field visits and intensive discussions with host leaders, Mr. Bondera led several interactive workshops covering topics related to organic certification, discussions of the differences between “the ideal and the actual” organic plan, distinctions between production and processing, how to change an existing system, and effective planning.

His recommendations included increasing the use of worm composting for soil and nutrient enrichment; incorporating trees and/or perennials for crop diversification, shade, nutrient access and/or border protection for overall organic system health; and incorporating diversity into the planning and strategizing of organic systems planning. Mr. Bondera also noted that the development of marketing strategies will be key for producers to access international markets – it is currently not economically viable to seek organic certifications solely for local markets. Additionally, Mr. Bondera suggested that producers from Guatemala should visit USDA-certified organic production and processing facilities in Hawaii because producers could learn from their shared experiences. Although this suggestion does not fall under the scope of the Farmer-to-Farmer program, perhaps there will be a future opportunities for that type of exchange!
Group working together during one of the workshops

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