Nicaragua is a small country in Central America. Most people in the United States know it either for geo-political reasons from the 1980s or perhaps its high quality coffee.
Nicaragua is rich in fresh water and natural resources. For a country of about six million people, there is an incredible amount of arable land ready to be put into productive agriculture. Furthermore, the country has an incredible road infrastructure.
I was fortunate to spend a few days in Nicaragua with a group called CAC Trading which is a leading entrepreneur in the development and commercialization of organic products grown by small farmers in Nicaragua. Ramses Ortega is their director, he served as my tour guide for my trip.
I learned from Ramses that Nicaragua is a bread basket for Central America. A lot of the beans, grains and roots grown in Nicaragua are sent to its neighboring countries, like El Salvador. The potential in Nicaragua for organic agriculture production and export is exponential. This has already being proven by Ramses and his team.
CAC Trading has the following vision:
"We strive to help small organic farmers in Nicaragua. We will work to improve their technical and financial know how, so we can be agents of change in our community, in a way we can improve the quality of life of our growers, and at the same time, build a sustainable business for our partners."
CAC Trading is already commercializing organic chia, sesame, red beans, black beans and coffee. These crops are all grown by small organic farmers. The seeds, beans and grains are purchased, packed and labeled by CAC Trading and then sold for wholesale export. By accessing foreign markets with organic products, the small farmers that work with CAC Trading receive up to 500% greater returns on their agriculture outputs.
CAC Trading is now diversifying into organic pineapple. My visit to Nicaragua was to visit their organic pineapple operation and to give them my perspective on the commercialization potential to markets in the United States.
While there is a long road ahead for Nicaragua to be an international pineapple player like its neighbor, Costa Rica, organic pineapple production is certainly feasible. In fact there may be some considerable advantages to growing pineapple in Nicaragua; First, the cost of labor is cheaper in Nicaragua than Costa Rica. Secondly, the cost of land is much less. Finally, given there is not much production of pineapple currently, there may be lowered risks of pests and disease spreading from farm to farm.
I will certainly be keeping an eye out for organic pineapple from Nicaraguan source and look forward to visiting again to Nicaragua.