Small producers from Nariño export Tahiti limes to the Caribbean
For the first time in their short history as Tahiti lime producers, small farmers from the municipalities of Leiva and El Rosario (Nariño, Colombia) exported their produce. Last October, they shipped more than ten metric tons of limes to the Caribbean islands of Guadalupe and Puerto Rico.
The Tahiti lime from Nariño's Alto Patía region has a high content of juice and a striking physical appearance due to the region's favourable agro-ecological conditions. These attributes make the lime highly sought after by the Caribbean market, guaranteeing a promising future for its producers.
This first export business transaction took place through an alliance between seven producers associations and the exporting company "Frutales Las Lajas". The alliance is the result of the technical and logistical support of "Colombia PUEDE: Peace and unity through productive development and commercialization", a project financed by the European Union through the European Trust Fund for Colombia and implemented by the International Trade Centre (ITC).
Since the beginning of the project, the Colombia PUEDE team realized the region's high productive and export potential, and recognized an important opportunity to improve the standard of living of the local population. Myriam Ceballos, manager-in-training of the producer's association "Corporación para el Desarrollo Sostenible de la Fosa del Patía (Corfopatía)" stated: "Colombia PUEDE has prepared the way for us. Thanks to this project, small producers are committing themselves to place production of the Tahiti lime over illicit crops, therefore not only enhancing the commercial aspect but the social aspect as well."
The exporting partner, Frutales Las Lajas, has more than 15 years of experience in the production and commercialization of tropical fruits, both domestically and abroad. The high quality of the fruit, and the continued technical assistance from ITC were important factors for this company's decision to engage in a commercial partnership.
"For a long time we had been looking to make an alliance with an association or community dedicated to producing lime, avocado or orange. However, we had bad experiences because we could not really monitor the work of the producers or train them, so the quality suffered," said Juan Felipe Gaviria, manager of Frutales Las Lajas. "We have received a first dispatch, and the good work in the production process is evident... it is reflected in the quality of the product. Having exported this first shipment to the Caribbean, we hope to make out next delivery to the European market," he adds.
Despite the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent quarantine in Nariño, Colombia PUEDE supported the certification as exporters (Predio Exportador) of 14 farmers with the aim of facilitating 80 more certifications in the next few months.
Likewise, the current situation did not impede farmers from participating in virtual training and advisory sessions, as well as from having access to digital media-based training materials and campaign on social media for approximately six months.
Furthermore, Colombia PUEDE, with the support of the European Union, delivered emergency assistance to 1,339 families, consisting of food aid packages and PPE kits (masks, gloves and products for cleaning/disinfection) in order to counter the negative impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. This emergency assistance further increased the beneficiaries' confidence in the project.
Ms. Ceballos concludes: "We have great support from the project team because they provide us with technical assistance, help us to obtain certifications, and open up market opportunities for us to consolidate through alliances. We thank ITC and the European Trust Fund for Peace in Colombia for all their efforts in our region; for empowering rural women and for providing new opportunities for our young people".
About ITC: The International Trade Centre is the joint agency of the World Trade Organization and the United Nations. ITC assists micro, small and medium-sized enterprises in developing and transition economies to become more competitive in global markets. This contributes to sustainable economic development within the frameworks of the Aid-for-Trade agenda and the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).