Haiti mango exporter awaits word from business partners

01/13/2010 04:36:34 PM
Doug Ohlemeier

The earthquake that has devastated Haiti is preventing an exporter of Haitian mangoes from contacting his business partners in the impoverished country.

Willie Sanchez, head of procurement for Golden Crown Produce Inc., Miami, visits the country monthly and was supposed to have been in Haiti when the earthquake struck.

The hotel he normally stays in was one of the buildings that collapsed.

“There’s no communications,” Sanchez said Jan. 13. “Most of the exporters that have homes in the U.S. have returned to Haiti. I am very concerned because I can’t hear anything from anyone because the lines are down.”

Sanchez said he has heard from the U.S. embassy there.

He said he doesn’t think his mango plant, which is a lower-level structure that is near the airport 20 miles away from the capital city of Port-au-Prince, was damaged.

Sanchez said the mango trees won’t likely sustain damage either.

However, he said many of the facilities of other exporters where mangoes are treated and exported are located in Port-au-Prince.

Sanchez said he knows the older buildings in Port-au-Prince that Golden Crown’s other business partners work in — who handle margarine, macaroni and spaghetti — have collapsed.

Golden Crown owns its mango facility, which includes hot water tanks. He said most of Haiti’s mangoes grow wild in people’s backyards.

Exporters such as himself visit the peasants during the season and pay them for their fruit.

Mangoes, which are Haiti’s No. 1 commodity, begin shipments the first week of April and run through August.

Haiti is also known for shipping limited quantities of root vegetables to U.S. customers, importers say.



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