Partnering for Innovation – Connecting to High-Value Opportunities

Original article appeared on Medium:

By Feed the Future Partnering for Innovation // 11 August 2020

Feed the Future Partnering for Innovation and Acceso are providing vegetable producers in El Salvador with tools to tap into high-value agricultural opportunities.

For Marlon Dagoberto, a Salvadorian lettuce producer, connecting to his country’s burgeoning high-value vegetable market offers promising economic opportunities. As a member of Acceso El Salvador’s (“Acceso”) farmer network, he is well-poised to tap into them. A leading local agribusiness, Acceso works directly with smallholders to boost productivity, create job opportunities, and foster long-term market linkages.

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With support from Feed the Future Partnering for Innovation, Acceso provides farmers like Marlon with the vital tools and access needed to increase their productivity, secure a guaranteed market, and garner higher prices for their produce. As part of Acceso’s supplier network, farmers are able to obtain high quality and disease-resistant seedlings, access equipment and other types of critical inputs, and receive technical trainings on topics ranging from proper input use to quality control and food safety. Producers emerge as reliable suppliers, ready to access emerging market demand for locally sourced and processed vegetables.

Growing Demand

In recent years, supermarkets and restaurant chains have significantly increased their demand for these high-value products. Local suppliers, however, have been unable to keep up and meet the required quality and food safety standards. Therefore, companies have looked outside El Salvador to import the vast majority of processed produce they need for their operations.

Acceso’s innovative model is helping to change this. Through its work with Partnering for Innovation, the agribusiness has established a new vegetable processing facility — the first of its kind in El Salvador — in order to sell high-quality produce directly to major supermarkets and restaurant chains. The new facility has specialized cutting equipment designed to quickly process a wide range and large volume of vegetables such as lettuce, carrots, and peppers sourced directly from Acceso’s farmer network. Now, buyers from companies are able to secure a reliable, local supply of high-quality, traceable, and competitively priced produce.

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Benefits Both On and Off the Farm

Producers like Marlon are optimistic about the impact the processing facility will have on their livelihoods. “The processing center has the necessary technology for all the steps required and demanded by the markets. It [is] also a good space for producers to be able to transport our vegetables without any complications, [allowing] greater economic growth to be achieved locally.”

The benefits extend beyond the farm as well. As an employee of Acceso’s processing facility, local resident María Hilda López Diaz sees the positive impact on her community. “The new processing center generates many benefits to our community [and] enables more people to work, mainly women.”

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While the presence of COVID-19 in the country has brought significant challenges in recent months, Acceso has achieved sales of 1,080,000 pounds of vegetables to supermarkets and restaurants through its partnership with Partnering for Innovation. The agribusiness is also continuing to support farmers during the pandemic by ensuring that unprocessed fruits and vegetables — currently in high demand due to their longer-shelf life — are reaching markets at a time of restricted mobility and access.

“The processing center has the necessary technology for all the steps required and demanded by the markets. It [is] also a good space for producers to be able to transport our vegetables without any complications, [allowing] greater economic growth to be achieved locally.”
– Marlon Dagoberto, Salvadorian lettuce producer