Famagusta: Ideas and proposals for the promotion of agricultural products
Standardization and Marketing of agricultural products and the example of Kolokasios Sotiras. A study by Marios Adamos.
By Mario Adamou *:
Our ancestors used to say the well-known proverb "If Mesarka is busy, eat mothers and children, if Paphos is busy, grab your clothes, you lost", wanting in this way to show the importance of the granary of the island in the well-being of the entire population of Cyprus. Now the role of the main "granary" of Cyprus has been taken over by the region of Kokkinochoria, with Sotira having the lion's share in several agricultural sectors (perishables, kolokasi, etc.).
In Cyprus and especially in our region the primary sector of the economy (agriculture), has always held an important position. Especially until the early 1990s, it can be characterized as the pillar of the economy of the Kokkinochoria area. In the decades that followed, for various reasons, there was a declining trend. However, after the rapid developments of recent years, the agricultural sector is returning to the forefront, but through a completely different scenario. The new conditions with the competitive environment that has been created make the need for adaptation to new data and innovation insurmountable.
The agricultural sector is already actively contributing to employment at the local level, mainly in the primary sector. But the situation is different in the secondary sector, such as the processing and standardization of our agricultural products. Innovation and the development of this sector, in the new volatile environment that is being created, should be a primary goal of farmers and agricultural cooperatives. Such a development will have direct, indirect and indirect beneficial effects, since it will also help the tertiary sector (exports), contributing to the trade balance of the country. The difficult economic situation we are experiencing can be the springboard for the development of the agricultural economy and significant business activities related to the production and distribution of agricultural products, as long as this effort is based on a reliable and professional basis.
The new competitive environment that has been created also makes imperative for farmers, the transition from empirical agriculture and the fair but often ineffective efforts to claim compensation and subsidies, to the use of science and technology in the production process. This will have as a direct result the reorganization of the agricultural economy, for the benefit initially of themselves but also consequently of the whole economy of the region and the place.
What is required is the change of the traditional mentality and the adoption of a new business attitude which is also the sought after innovation. The term innovation, as will be thoroughly analyzed below, implies rationality in the production and distribution of products, their direct distribution, their differentiation, their standardization, their branding, the exploitation of the possibilities of information and communication, the quality, activity with tourism, etc.
Most of them are easy to implement and can also more easily maximize profit. Innovative and guaranteed solutions can highlight the quality and add value to our products.
The most important weapon in the hands of our producers now is the registration of Kolokassi and Poulles as a Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) Product. This development creates great prospects for the marketing of the product which has been identified with the Savior.
The producer groups and the producers themselves, can in various ways increase their profits from their production, it is enough to realize that they have to take their fate into their own hands and not leave it to the appetites of intermediaries and traders. In our area, with simple and innovative methods, taking advantage of the tourism industry, we can for most months of the year have a large part of the products we produce directly and with greater profit in hotels, restaurants and other sectors engaged in catering. At the same time, indirectly, we advertise our products to foreign visitors to our island, so that they become the best ambassadors to their countries.
Creating a special web page that can accept orders directly from restaurants and hotels.
Call center for orders. Provision of a corporate telephone number eg 8000000 in which telephone orders can be placed
Collaboration with other producer groups in the area to create "sales stations"
Online Auction: Creating a special order page that will be accessed by accredited merchants. Accredited merchants-buyers have a deposit or cash advance for the amount of transactions they plan to make. If they exceed it, the act is not allowed. Buyers pay to the fund within 10 days of each quantity they buy, and farmers receive a maximum of 10 days on average the quality of the products they delivered ten days ago.
PROMOTION - ADVERTISING
Highlighting locality. That is, that they are pure Cypriot products, which must be supported for the general good.
Utilization of new technologies and social media to promote products, with emphasis on their quality features and advantages.
Promotion of our traditional products in hotels and restaurants in the area in order to promote the traditional Cypriot cuisine (cooperation with CTO)
Informing foreign visitors about the traditional products of the area.
Organizing visits of foreigners and locals to get acquainted with ways of making traditional products
Advertising through specialized TV, radio shows and press releases.
Participation in exhibitions and events
PROCESSING OF AGRICULTURAL PRODUCTS
The processing of agricultural products is a profitable investment because:
Uses as a raw material the production of the region and produces products of multiple value from the raw raw material
Products are produced that can be stored for a long time and can be exported to foreign markets
Manufacturing employs a larger number of workers in a local community.
The number of primary agricultural products that undergo small or large processing before their consumption is increasing. This creates significant benefits for producers, manufacturing workers, consumers themselves and the national economy. The most important benefits are:
New processed products are produced that meet the modern needs of consumers, eg pre-fried potatoes, tomato paste, jams (eg strawberry) and mainly zucchini cleaned, cut and packed ready for cooking (shock freezing method)
The period during which the various products are available to consumers is extended, satisfying their needs for a longer period of time.
Facilitates the purchase and sale of processed products
The geographical area in which a primary agricultural product can be sold is expanded
Increases the income of producers due to the increase in pre-sale quantity
Creates additional agricultural and non-agricultural employment as well as income in the areas where the processing units are created
Increases exports of agricultural products
STANDARDIZATION OF AGRICULTURAL PRODUCTS
The standardization of agricultural products increases the recognizability of quality products and consumer confidence in them. The result is that the product produced has greater marketability and value. In modern Marketing, branded products have a constant value and price over time, without major changes as is usually done in the field of agricultural products. In high quality products, standardization is necessary in small packages because there is a risk that if sold in bulk, it will be exploited by various "merchants" who may package these products under their own name. Standardization may cost the producer more, but this additional cost returns many times over to the same in the form of profits.
The packaging of an agricultural product, ie its placement in a special casing such as net, nylon bag, carton, cardboard box, metal container, etc., in addition to physical protection, also helps in its commercial promotion. The package may have the flag of Cyprus, which will indicate that the product is Cypriot and not imported, the name of the producer should be indicated as well as for example on the packaging of the colocasia and a recipe for its preparation.
Packages can be categorized according to their purpose and as follows:
In the retail package, which will contain the quantity needed by the consumer
In the wholesale package in hotels and restaurants and concerns large quantities and aims to facilitate the handling that is done during loading, unloading, storage
AGRICULTURAL PRODUCTS MARKETING
In addition to the quantity of the product produced, the price at which it is going to sell it has a decisive role for the income of the Cypriot producer. Which price depends on how well these products meet the needs of consumers, preferences and disposable income of consumers.
The conditions created in the market force the producer either to think as an expert or to consult experts, in order to produce and promote his goods in an organized and systematic way. Every production unit must now be able to give the appropriate answers to the questions concerning the types of products it is going to produce, the quality, the quantity, the market and the form in which it is going to sell them. These answers can give the right market research and the right Marketing.
The production of agricultural products in our country is mostly carried out by a large number of small agricultural enterprises, which do not have sufficient means to obtain accurate information for the needs of the market.
Marketing research usually contains the following research:
Research on ways to sell products
Research of terms and methods of sale
Advertising media research (especially for new products)
Consumer behavior research
Advertising and promotion
Sales promotion can be done through various means, such as offers, discounts, gifts, advertising in addition to traditional media and social media, etc. The main guideline should be the production of products that meet modern consumer needs. For example, it is said and perhaps corresponds to the fact that the traditional way of cooking colocasia will disappear in a few years, since modern housewives either do not know how to prepare it or do not have time to make it.
The consequence is a reduction in demand for this product which over time will be greater. Thus, the need to promote alternative ways of making colocasia, easier and more modern, while at the same time advertising its quality characteristics, becomes urgent.
Exploiting the internet by creating a special page, promoting and advertising products, while highlighting their quality features.
Information through specialized TV, radio shows and press releases, promotion, advertising and public relations in order to emphasize the inherent advantages of these products in terms of quality, safety and hygiene, special production methods, nutritional value, labeling, of the environment etc.
Participation in special exhibitions and events to highlight the selected products.
This product is produced as it is known, almost exclusively in Sotira, therefore with proper promotion and exploitation it can bring significant benefits to the producers. However, with proper advertising, the advantages of colocasia in relation to other similar products must be highlighted, it must be accessible to new markets and, above all, it can be prepared in new ways, easier and less time consuming. Zucchini is considered one of the 8 superfoods worldwide, for its beneficial effects on human health. In fact, in some countries, mainly in the Far East, in addition to the bulbs, the leaves and the root are used for various purposes.
Rich in antioxidants
High in iron, which helps fight fatigue and maintain a proper metabolic rate.
Probiotic fiber and rich in inulin, which helps intestinal health and motility.
The high levels of fructose found in colocasia make it an attractive alternative to sucrose. Rising international sucrose prices are encouraging the use of alternative sugars.
Since fructose is 1,5 times sweeter than sugar, it gives lower calories than the sweetness it offers. Ideal for diabetics.
Zucchini also contains vitamin C, phosphorus, thiamine, potassium and is a very good source of iron.
Highlighting its quality characteristics
Through cooking shows to become more widely known to young housewives.
Promotion in local restaurants and taverns.
Cooperation with the Ministry of Tourism to be included in the menus of traditional taverns.
Alternative ways of cooking (eg in China it is made into a puree
Creating a special website.
Promotion at traditional festivals and other events
Further upgrade of the Kolokassi Festival (the example of the Strawberry Festival in Deryneia, is indicative)
ACCESSIBILITY - MARKETABILITY
Kolokasi is considered, and perhaps not unjustly, a time-consuming and difficult product to prepare. Recipes for cooking it are limited and usually difficult and require valuable time for the current data in their application, especially by young housewives. It is obvious that in order to continue to exist in the market, new ways of cooking must be found or the traditional ways must be introduced to new housewives and if it is possible to limit the time required for the preparation of the dish.
Therefore, with the help of experts, new ways of making zucchini can be "discovered" and promoted, such as zucchini puree, zucchini salad, zucchini chips, baked zucchini, soup and other more or less imaginative ways (To zucchini, in 2002, was named Best Vegetable Soup at the Nice Festival for the Heritage of French Cuisine, and in Baden-Württemberg, Germany, more than 90% of its root is used to make a drink called "Topinambur", "Topi" or "Rössler". ”, While in Greece it is contained in enriched juices). At the same time, the traditional ways of cooking colocasia and especially the "poules", which are considered one of the first choices of the Cypriots, can become more widely known.
Perhaps an easy and low cost way to make courgette easier to make and accessible to many is:
With the eradication of the colocasia and after its delivery by the producers to the packaging plant, some quantities, using a special machine, are cut according to the way of cooking, eg degrees for kappama, cubes for yahni, chips the "pulses" for fried. Then be packed airtight, in a similar way that butchers pack sausages so they do not spoil. The cooking recipe should be written on each package. The packages will be put in sock freezing for preservation. Rapid freezing and distribution of products can be done in collaboration with a frozen company after signing a special agreement.
This method minimizes the time needed to prepare the cooking, while the indication of the recipe gives an important auxiliary tool to the person who undertakes the preparation of the dish. It also makes it easier to export abroad.
It is known that another Cypriot population, almost equal to that of Cyprus, lives abroad, most of them in Great Britain. This population is potential consumers of colocasia, as long as it reaches them and is easy to cook as mentioned above. How the product will be exported can be sought in cooperation with the relevant departments of the Ministries of Commerce and Agriculture. Taking care to make it easily accessible, not time consuming in its preparation, making known its beneficial effects on the body and especially by informing the ways of cooking, the courgette can be one of the main exportable products of the place.
In case the implementation of the plan proceeds, the development of a product distribution system is considered important. Also, with the delivery of products to other cities, the vehicles that would normally return a license can be supplied with products from other areas in order to satisfy the company's customers in our area.
The European Commission in recent years has approved a total of 22 programs to promote agricultural products in the EU market and in third countries. Among these programs there is not one from Cyprus, while typically a program for the promotion of eggs from Bulgaria to Greece and Romania is included.
Of the 22 EU-subsidized producers, 4 are Greek and concern quality products that have been registered and protected as PDO (Protected Designations of Origin), PGI (Protected Geographical Indications) and EPIP (Guaranteed Traditional Specific Products), and vegetables, meat and organic products.
The Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) refers to agricultural products whose production, processing and processing take place in a limited geographical area. The PDO was established as a separate product group because the natural environment is a key factor in shaping products, it has a direct effect and gives them special characteristics. The Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) refers to products whose reputation or a key feature can be attributed to their geographical origin. The EPIP (Guaranteed Traditional Specific Products) concerns the products whose composition or the way of their production, have a long history and incorporate the manners and customs of the people who produce them.
The registration of Kolokasios as a PDO product is the first big step, but we must realize that without proper marketing it is not enough.
With simple but also more complex actions, the incomes of the farmers of the area can increase dramatically. Immediate actions, with low implementation costs, can bring short-term benefits. These are just some of the goal setting shareware that you can use. The most time consuming actions of processing, standardization and registration of products will have benefits which will be visible in the medium and even in the long run.
However, these actions can be implemented simultaneously, by specialized personnel / partners, with low costs and large margins for improving marketability. All these are innovative and guaranteed solutions that highlight the quality and add value to the products.
The crisis and the shift observed by the consumer public to local and national products, the emerging injections of support to domestic production as well as the EU New Common Agricultural Policy program 2021 - 2027, create growth opportunities that should not be missed. In conclusion, it becomes clear that the development of innovative approaches is the only way for the rural world to survive in the new competitive environment in which we live.
* Marios Adamou, Journalist, Writer, Municipal Councilor Sotiras
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