Rapid negotiations move seed

Sean Ellis/Capital Press Seed analyst Carolyn Langley shows Mexican bean industry representatives how the Idaho State Seed Laboratory ensures the quality of Idaho certified bean seed March 29 in Boise.

Mexican growers buy emergency bean seed from Idaho

By SEAN ELLIS

Capital Press

BOISE -- Idaho dry bean dealers and Mexican grower representatives negotiated the sale of hundreds of tons of Idaho bean seed to Mexico in Boise March 29.

In a speed-dating type format, 13 Mexican bean industry representatives from four states moved from table to table as they hashed out deals with representatives of six Idaho bean companies.

The visit was set up to facilitate the emergency sale of Idaho bean seed to Mexico, whose bean industry has been severely harmed by that country's worst drought in at least 70 years.

"The situation is tough. We probably had 20-30 percent of the production we normally would have," said Cornelio Giesbrecht, a Mexican producer who was representing a group of farmers in Durango state.

The visit had a sense of urgency, as Mexico has very little seed to plant for the next cropping season and needs thousands of tons of bean seed by June.

The seeds of the visit were sown in December, during an Idaho trade mission to Mexico where Idaho State Department of Agriculture Director Celia Gould promised Mexican officials and farmers Gem State producers would help them get through their emergency.

Gould reiterated that commitment March 29 and said the ISDA and Idaho farmers would do whatever it took to help that country's bean farmers.

The Mexican growers and officials participating in a three-day visit to Idaho represent 80 percent of Mexico's total bean production.

Officials from Mexico's agriculture department have told Idaho officials the country needs to purchase more than 10,000 tons of Idaho bean seed.

Idaho Bean Commission Chairman Lorell Skogsberg said while Mexico's emergency represents a one-time opportunity, it also presents Idaho with a great chance to open doors in that country and prove to Mexican growers the benefit of using certified Idaho bean seed.

"This is really our opportunity to get material into their hands, let them try the products and show them the superior qualities and genetics of Idaho seed," he said. "If we get our foot in the door and they're happy with the product and can see the value ... then I think it will bring repeat business."

While a few Mexican farmers understand the benefits of certified bean seed, most don't, said Armando Orellana, Idaho's trade representative to Mexico.

"We're trying to spread the word that quality bean seed guarantees yields and money for producers in Mexico," he said. "We don't want this to be a one-time operation; we really want to prove that a good, quality bean seed means money to the farmers."

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