The North Dakota Trade Office (NDTO) has been awarded a $169,850 grant to promote North Dakota specialty crops in the international market. The NDTO is seeking to “increase the state’s global market visibility and competitiveness of the specialty crop sector” by using the funds to establish the Specialty Crop Program 2017. Their focus will be on the Middle East and North Africa, otherwise known as the MENA region.
The North Dakota Department of Agriculture awarded the grant to NDTO, through funds administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Specialty Crop Block Grant Program. The USDA outlines specialty crops, including “peas, beans, lentils, and confectionary sunflowers,” with the full list located on the USDA website.
Specialty crops are defined as “fruits and vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture, and nursery crops,” by the farm bill. Money from this grant will also be going toward pest and disease research, and marketing the crops. North Dakota is one of the top producers for specialty crops in the United States.
The North Dakota Trade Office states in their announcement last Thursday, “The Specialty Crop Program 2017 will involve market research on both existing and promising markets for pulse crops.” Pulse crops are very high in protein and fiber and are low in fat.
The Specialty Crop Program will also involve “a limited number of competitive grants to exporters for foreign focused sales trips, a trade mission and a reverse trade mission focused on the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.”
The NDTO is focusing on the MENA region because of their role as a significant importer of pulse crops and is currently importing most of these crops from Canada. Plans to send a trade mission to the region are in works with dates to be announced, with a reverse trade mission to follow. The reverse trade mission will focus on promoting regional pulses and pulse ingredients to potential buyers, taking place in North Dakota.
Recent trade missions taken by NDTO have focused on Peru and Columbia, targeted by the Specialty Crop Program. Beverly Flaten, a representative from JM Grain, based in Garrison, North Dakota, said, “The Specialty Crop Program has provided opportunities for JM Grain in Peru, Colombia and elsewhere, sharing with customers our great North Dakota pulse products. Without this, we would not have been able to develop relationships nor meet the buyers that have written contracts with us.”
NDTO is a public-private enterprise and member-based, providing education, research, advocacy and leadership to North Dakota companies, working to develop and expand their business internationally.