Increasing Access to Local, Regional and International Markets by Organizing Organic Producers within a Farmer’s Association: APOT of Costa Rica

Connecting small-medium producers to larger markets can be challenging, mostly due to lack of skills needed to access the markets with products that fit demand. Although food produced locally and accessible to consumers in local markets supports local economies, producers often seek markets beyond their immediate reach.

Production potential may be greater than local demand. As demand grows and producers’ reputations expand, local demand may lead to growing demand across a region. As demand grows, local producers may need assistance in becoming more organized on their farms to meet that demand.

How does a small group of organized agricultural producers attain capacity to reach its fullest potential? What is its current capacity, and where can it go? What is feasible? How do you measure that feasibility?

The Association of Organic Producers of Turrialba (APOT) asks such questions. Over the past couple of years, they have struggled in understanding how to scale-up as well as dealing with the changing organic markets. They lack know-how. How to know how much food to grow? How to know which markets are accessible for their products: honey, banana vinegar, coffee, vegetables, and potential new products? How to investigate their entry point into various markets for their products?

The Association is comprised of 250 farmer families. This project seeks to establish a team that will strengthen their organization and position them in several markets whereby their products have a place to compete regionally and globally.  

Purdue University’s International Programs in Agriculture (IPIA) and Purdue Cooperative Extension Service (CES), in collaboration with the Centro Agronómico Tropical de Investigación y Enseñanza (CATIE), will work with the Asociación de Productores Orgánicos de Turrialba, Costa Rica to improve APOT’s organizational management, increase product development, and better market their products in Costa Rica and abroad.

The 250 APOT member families will become familiar with market and product development techniques using models developed by Purdue and CATIE, in association with APOT, leading to improved farmer livelihoods.

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