Clemson professor shares knowledge with Guatemalans to support U.S. ornamental plant industry
CLEMSON –The United States and Guatemala are partners in the flower and ornamental plant market and a Clemson professor is working to help ensure this partnership is profitable for producers from both countries.
Jim Faust, a Clemson associate professor of horticulture, traveled to Guatemala as part of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Partners of the Americas Farmer-to-Farmer program. This program involves American volunteers training rural farmers and agribusiness owners on how to reap economic benefits by improving production of their goods. Faust’s tasks included working for two weeks with producers and exporters of ornamental plants.
“Most of this training focused on post-harvest handling methods,” Faust said. “The growers learned about proper cutting and shipping of flowers and foliage to the U.S. market, and they learned about propagation and other tasks required to grow and sell plants.”
A majority of Guatemalan-grown flowers, foliage and plants are shipped to the United States, Faust said. Teaching Guatemalan producers how to properly ship the goods is beneficial for both them and the American businesses receiving the goods.
“The products that are exported to America eventually end up going to our consumers,” Faust said. “When proper shipping methods are followed, everyone benefits. The Guatemalan businesses are more profitable and the American growers and florists that receive their products experience better shelf life, plant growth and performance, which American consumers are happy to purchase. It’s a win-win for everyone.”
While in Guatemala, Faust visited farms where ornamental plants and flowers were grown. One of these farms belongs to Byron Calderon, a grower of protea cut flowers that are commonly seen in bouquets sold in the floral section of local grocery stores.
“I have known Jim since 2001,” Calderon said. “He is an excellent advisor with a vast range of expertise and experience. He is a really good teacher.”
Lessons Calderon said he learned from Faust include tips for growing plants, as well as post-harvest, packing and shipping tips.
This was the second time Faust participated in the Farmer-to-Farmer project. The last time he volunteered for the project was 10 years ago. For more information about this project, go to http://www.partners.net/farmer-farmer.