From Edgar Guzman’s finca , it’s a good 30-minute drive along farm tracks and highways to the airport connecting the Dominican Republic’s second largest city, Santiago de los Caballeros, with the outside world. So farmers like Guzman must rely on the Internet for updates on export and world commodity markets to locate buyers, and price their fresh produce.
After learning about TFO Canada’s web-based information service on a recent trade mission, Guzman added the site to his bookmarks. Shortly thereafter, he was also adding Canada to his roster of foreign distributors buying the farm’s produce.
Caribbean Greenhouse has been shipping crates of ‘Scotch Bonnet’ red hot peppers to Canada for seven months now. “I believe it [the TFO website] is a good entry point for new exporters wanting to take a bite on the Canadian market,” he says. By way of illustration, Guzman says that “selling into Canada has given us the opportunity to grow as exporters, and to expand our operations.”
Sitting 580 meters above sea level on top of one of the most beautiful mountains in the Cibao region, Guzman’s farm must now grow to accommodate new export sales. So this year, the finca will double in size to 25,000 square meters of red hot peppers and the delicious giant granadilla fruit he cultivates.
Talking from his mountain-view office, Guzman says the TFO Canada website provided all the tools he needed to crack the Canadian market. “It showed me what Canadian companies were doing, and what they were buying. It gave us some parameters on the type of boxes we should manufacture to get our peppers safely to market. It also gave us a lot of information on transportation and logistics, with contact names and directories.”
Not one to rest on his laurels, Guzman remains a committed TFO Canada website visitor: “I regularly update my profile, and research the site for new, potential buyers,” he says.
Guzman advises exporters eyeing Canada not to be intimidated by unfamiliar or distant markets. “All the tools to guide you and explain the steps on this journey so full of opportunities and challenges are there, on the website.“
In April, Edgar Guzman plans to link up with current clients and TFO Canada at the Canadian Produce Marketing Association convention in Calgary, Alberta. He’s also taking the opportunity to meet with potential clients identified on TFO’s website, and maybe introduce them to his home-grown granadillas too.