The Mexican state of Veracruz is the leading region for lime cultivation worldwide. Although, the regions’ full potential has not been reached yet, due to insufficient quality of the final product. Consequently the achievable market prices and gross proceeds are slimmer than possible.
The project goal is to support 500 smallholder farmers in the process of gaining access to the international fruit trade markets. Through training and education centers, Don Limón’s partners are able to improve the quality of the product and create better awareness among the farmers for their international competitiveness and development potential.
Mariana Juarez, who is Mexican herself and agricultural economics graduate, is managing the project in Germany and on-site in Mexico. Improving the livelihoods of the smallholder farmers and having a social and environmental impact are the key goals of this project. Maintaining a safe and profitable supply-chain on both sites is the overall objective.
Don Limón operates in close partnership with the development organization Sequa, which is part of Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development. Sequa is implementing projects worldwide. The Organization aims to sustainably improve the living and working conditions of as many individuals as possible. Understanding how important successful partnerships are in order to achieve set goals is key in the collaboration between Don Limón and Sequa.
After conducting local research into the basic needs of local producers, it appeared that knowledge and awareness for pest control are a key element to a successful progress. Particularly, knowledge and technical support in the areas of pre- and post-harvesting practices were important. In the first phase of the project Don Limón works together with 100 different growers. In the second phase this figure is expected to increase to 300 growers and to 500 in the third phase.
The first phase of the project the small farmers are educated by a team of professionals on their plantations about Good Agricultural Practices, plantation management, fertilizer usage, as well as pest and weed control. Key aspect is building a base of trust between the producers and Don Limón, through continuity, to establish standardized and regulated processes and to achieve all goals and exceed expectations. The expected results are improved product quality and increased profits from lime cultivation, as well as an economic growth for the whole region.
Don Limón‘s thorough controls of the product, the company was able to establish a system that supplies high quality limes. The quality management ensures that all producers participate regularly in the training and educational classes to optimize the process of lime cultivation. The result is an improved and standardized quality, which strengthens the competitiveness on the market. All European and American requirements are met and new markets can be explored.
At international fairs and meetings Don Limón communicates clearly transparency and sustainability all along the value chain of limes. Don Limón introduces the product and the farmers to the international market and helps connecting retailers, costumers with the producers. This way Don Limón impacts the livelihood of many smallholders and furthermore has a strong impact on the region of the whole.
During the first semester in the project Don Limón built a team of four field managers, who are responsible of monitoring and assisting the smallholder farmers.
Don Limóns initial goal to register 100 farmers in the region of Veracruz was by far exceeded. Contracts with 169 farmers were signed in the first period of the project.
Furthermore, Don Limón is actively improving the real time communication with the Mexican producers, through instant messengers and social media platforms. This way instant feedback on quality and market situations can be communicated in real time.