High quality apples

first_imgLearning the essentials of marketingIn the Ukraine, Florkowski met with a group of more than 30growers. He taught them the basic principles of postharvesthandling, marketing, sorting, grading and merchandising.”The growers were very receptive and eager to learn,” he said.Last spring, Pennsylvania State University horticulturist RobCrassweller taught the growers about variety selection, dripirrigation, orchard management and pest management. Florkowskiemphasized the link between proper cultural practices andmarketing.”They needed to understand how the grade, appearance, color,maturity and size of the fruit affect their profits,” he said.”Now they have the knowledge to increase their purchasing power,and their incomes are growing.” Expert volunteers sharing knowledgeAn economist with the UGA College of Agricultural andEnvironmental Sciences, Florkowski visited the area as part of aCitizens Network for Foreign Affairs project. Funded by the U.S.Agency for International Development, CNFA organizes volunteerswho provide business and agricultural training to private farmersin parts of the former Soviet Union.”This area of the world is undergoing market reforms,” Florkowskisaid. “The Ukraine is a very young country. The farmers in thisarea produce a large crop of fruits, but they don’t produceenough for even their country’s consumption.”In the off-season, fruits and vegetables are imported from Europeand South America, he said. Immediate results, future possibilitiesFlorkowski said their newfound sorting and grading knowledge willhave immediate impact on the growers’ profit margins.”They’re in the heart of their season and can easily beginsorting and grading,” he said. “This alone should double theirprices.”By chance, Florkowski opened the door to a possible newpartnership for the Ukranian growers.”I went to the local hypermarket (grocery store) and foundshriveled, poor-quality apples,” he said. “They looked likeoversized prunes, and they were expensive, too.”Florkowski contacted the store managers and told them that thelocal growers could easily supply them with fresh, high-qualityapples.”I established the initial contact, and now the managers wouldlike to meet with the growers,” he said. By Sharon OmahenUniversity of GeorgiaIn the height of Georgia’s apple season, it’s easy to find avariety of fresh, high-quality fruit on the produce shelves. Butthis isn’t the case in countries like the Ukraine, wherepoor-quality fruit is sold in the marketplace just miles away fromorchards filled with fresh, high-quality fruit.University of Georgia professor Wojciech Florkowski recentlyreturned from a research outreach trip to the Ukraine, where heshared his marketing skills with apple and pear growers in theKirovohrad Oblast Orchard Association. Real-world experienceThe growers’ benefits from the UGA professor’s visit are obvious.But he believes the trip also benefits the U.S. and fruit growersin Georgia.”I learned new things from my visit to their orchards that I cannow share with growers in Georgia,” he said. “I can now bringthis real-world knowledge back with me and apply it when I talkwith our farmers and our students.”Florkowski said helping new democracies, especially in this areaof the world, directly benefits the United States.”The Ukraine is a strategically important country of U.S.interest,” he said. “It is located on the Black Sea, and the gasand oil supplies there are piped through to Europe. It’simportant to the U.S. for this country to be diplomatic andpeaceful.”Florkowski says CFNA-funded agricultural visits create “highreturns from small investments.””These growers just needed a little knowledge to put them overthe edge,” he said. “You can create quick impact in a relativeshort time, and you gain the satisfaction of helping others.”last_img

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