Special to the Saipan Tribune
Trading is the main road that many countries use to prosper. The products that are produced in the country are sold to its citizens or traded to another country. This activity creates a two-fold benefit for all the people. On one hand production of goods creates jobs for its citizens. On the other hand money is brought into the country from trading or exporting the produced goods.
Because it is impossible for any one country to produce all the varieties of goods that its citizens demand or require, trading is the best way to satisfy the needs. We in the CNMI must find what products we can plentifully produce and then trade them with other countries.
We have fertile land that can produce many different crops and fruits. How can we grow them profitably? One way is to grow them in quantity and quality. The next step is to search markets to export them to. But we also can add value to the ordinary crops and fruits that we grow thereby adding to its sales prices. Let’s examine some ways we can add value to them.
Let’s look at the banana and some of its by-products. Banana is amongst the most versatile and most eaten fruits in the world today. Bananas come in a variety of sizes and colors when ripe, including yellow, purple, and red. Depending upon cultivar and ripeness, the flesh can vary in taste from starchy to sweet. Unripe or green bananas and plantains are used for cooking various dishes such as banana pudding and are the staple starch of many tropical populations. Banana sap is extremely sticky and can be used as a practical adhesive.
Some of the value added products from bananas are:
1. Banana puree: the puree can be frozen, canned or aseptically packed. The puree is used in the beverage industry, baby foods, snack foods, jam, and sauces.
2. Banana powder: has high sugar and starch content and can be used as a substitute for fresh bananas in making traditional cakes or their premixes as well as in the processing of banana snacks, crackers or crisps.
3. Banana flour: this is different from banana powder.
4. Banana jam: has a sweet taste, fine, flavor and texture.
5. Banana drink: banana puree is used extensively in the processing of straight banana drink.
6. Banana chips and crisps.
7. Banana vinegar: banana vinegar is processed by fermenting the banana juice.
8. Banana flavored ice cream.
We grow coconuts by the thousands. But we also waste so many of them because we do not understand the value added products we can produce using the coconut. Here are some uses for coconut:
1. coconut milk suitable for cooking and drinking.
2. coconut cream used in savory dishes, desserts and various drinks
3. coconut liqueur: have you ever tasted it-great!
4. coconut butter.
5. desiccated coconut (coconut flour).
6. coconut shampoo.
7. coconut body and skin lotion.
8. coconut vinegar.
We grow tons of sweet potatoes, but do we know the various value added products we can make with them? Here are a few suggestions:
1. Sweet potato casserole, frozen.
2. Scalloped sweet potato, frozen.
3. Sweet potato pudding.
4. Sweet potato beverage.
5. Sweet French fries.
6. Sweet potato bread.
7. Sweet potato flour.
8. Dried sweet potatoes for dog food.
9. Sweet potato bran muffins.
We could discuss the added value of peppers to hot peppers. And there are many other fruits and vegetables that increase our sales if we add value to them. The above are only a few suggestions of value added products that can be made from these items. Of course, when we sell them we will earn an extra dollar.
The methods and recipes used to add value to these products can be readily found on the Internet. Also the machinery needed to produce them in quantity can be readily found on the Internet. In other words, if we use a bit of initiative we can greatly increase our income from our farm produce. None of these value added ideas involve lots of money.
Consider growing our fruits and vegetables as organic products. By being able to grow fruits and vegetables to meet organic standards, we will be able to receive a higher price. By studying how to minimize the use of pesticides, our produce can most likely be labeled as organically grown. Many consumers will pay and extra dollar to purchase such fruits and vegetable. Discuss growing organic food with NMC CRESS and find out how to improve your product.
How many of us have considered growing flowers as a product to sell in stores and for export? Guam imports over $32,000.00 of flowers monthly. South Korea exports over $200,000.00 per year of flowers. Flower trading is one of the largest and most lucrative businesses. Yet we overlook this exciting commodity. Think how much a bouquet of flowers costs us when we buy it for any occasion.
When I lived in Japan and in Hawaii, I could go into a grocery store and buy a bouquet of flowers for my house for about $7 to $10. Restaurants had flowers on every table to look and smell good. When chamber maids made up the rooms, a flower was placed on the pillow for a lovely sight before retiring.
I am surprised that in our lovely islands, so few people grow flowers as a business. I see so few of them in stores and in other places. Why is that? Yes, growing and trading flowers can become a lucrative business both in the domestic market and for export.
By now you are pretty tired of hearing me preach weekly about what we can do. But it is true. We can help ourselves if we use our brains and hands to create things that we can use for ourselves as well as for export.
The other day I received an email from a gentleman in China who has been reading about the CNMI and my articles about producing agricultural products. He suggested that we consider his country China for exporting any organic foods we can grow here because so much of the products there are sprayed with excessive pesticides. He also suggested we sell our organic products to Japan who has been hit hard because of their tragedy this past year in which much of their food is infected. Wow! See what I am talking about!
I hope I didn’t confuse the issue by mixing in thoughts about value-added products and trading. We have to understand that we have many products that we can produce and even increase their value for export.
Exporting can become a major industry in the CNMI if we really study the opportunities. We have never been an export country except for the brief garment industry brief period. Trading is a dormant industry waiting for development.
Several months ago I received a nice big check from the USDA for the costs of exporting shrimp. I also will be receiving another check for the same activity. So I speak from experience.
There is so much more to discuss about these agricultural opportunities, but until we decide to do them, they remain conversation pieces only.
Please consider the opportunities to create huge amounts of produce and fruits right here. Let’s begin trading our products and minimize our imports. I truly believe that producing goods and trading them is one of the most important and sustainable opportunities towards economic recovery.
Remember to smile! It’s contagious.