Rural farmers in Paraguay are having great success selling their passion fruit through farming associations to a leading corporate juice brand. This is thanks to USAID’s support through Paraguay Productivo, a program that connects small farmers with private sector buyers.
Last week, I had the chance to visit some farmers in Paraguay’s Itapúa province and learn about their experiences with Paraguay Productivo and especially the leading local buyer, Frutika. I was thrilled to see the benefits of the program for myself and hear the testimony of small-scale farmer, Lucia Santos, whose life has been transformed through her production work. In the following video she says that she now has enough money to buy necessary items for her family.
USAID/Paraguay Productivo has GDA (Global Development Alliances) agreements with 20 organizations, mainly small farmer cooperatives & private firms and has generated $9.8 million U.S. dollars in local sales and exports. Paraguay Productivo is working with Cooperatives and associations that have over 100,000 members some of them in production and many others in savings and credits cooperatives.
The program also provides technical support to farmers, including advising them on how to best produce crops. And it has helped them find buyers like Frutika, one of Paraguay’s most successful food processing and distribution companies, which buys passion fruit and other products from small farmers.
This is a win-win arrangement. The company can count on a reliable source of passion fruit and rural producers now have a reliable buyer. Since the initial agreement in 2009, approximately 300 small farmers have joined the program and started producing passion fruit and another 250 farmers are preparing to cultivate more passion fruit.
Some municipalities are joining the effort because they are investing in nursery production for passion fruit. In rural Paraguay where the poverty rate is as high as 48 %, this assistance is really helping to transform people’s lives.
Beneficiary Norma Riveros, credits her passion fruit sales to her participation in Paraguay Productivo, which ensures her and her family a regular income. They can now afford to buy a machine that helps them clear the field and improve crop yield. I also had a chance to speak to 19 year old passion fruit farmer and business student, Rolando Fretes, one of the cooperatives’ young leaders. In this video he talks about his work and explains why Paraguay Productivo is important to his community:
At the end of the day, I visited the production plant at Frutika and saw first-hand the results of the farmers’ hard labor. Frutika is one of the best-selling companies in Paraguay, and the leading provider of juices such as orange juice, passion fruit, and peach. Here, Engineer Celso Cubilla discusses the importance the company’s partnership with Paraguay Productivo to its business goals.
In short, there is no denying that this public private partnership is beneficial to Paraguay’s economy and all the parties involved: USAID, the rural farmers and Frutika.