Agricultural Export Marketing

Friday, January 13, 2006 14:45 by Robin Gurney

When I first heard Estonian I thought it was Japanese!

You might laugh at my ignorance (especially if you are Estonian or Japanese) but think again:

TEGEMA consonant-vowel-consonant-vowel-consonant-vowel or

YAMAHA consonant-vowel-consonant-vowel-consonant-vowel.

You get the idea? It sounds the ‘same’.
It’s the principle of vowel harmony that swings it for me.

Okei, it does not sound exactly the same to me anymore, I have been in Estonia more than a year, but I still like to hear Estonians speaking in Japanese accents….just for fun.

But wait!

Estonian is a Baltic Finnic language from the Finno-Ugric branch of the Uralic language tree if I am not mistaken.
And isn’t Japanese essentially an Altaic language?

There has been some study to suggest that Altaic and Uralic languages are connected, given their similar grammatical structures.

A list of Uralic languages

At Wikipedia it states that the Uralic – Altaic connection is generally unaccepted but I still like to think there is a link between Japanese and Estonian.

You decide for yourself and let me know your opinion, that’s what the comments box is for :)

Anyway I digress: This is a blog about export marketing so why am I am talking (about the) Japanese?

Apples! That’s why.

And small farms.

Japan is next to china.
Guess which one grows and sell huge quantities of cheap apples.
Yep, China.

Guess which one has a tiny apple growing industry fighting against a huge, cheap neighbour.
Yep, Japan.

So how has one farm managed to kick out the competition?
Quality and diversity.

Some clever Japanese apple farmers have taken advantage of the fact that the wealthiest Chinese (and other nationalities too) are prepared to pay for ‘luxury apples’.
In fact they are prepared to pay 17 US DOLLARS EACH!!!

Now that is what I call successful export marketing.

This ‘boutique fruit industry’ could set a positive example for small Estonian Farmers.

If the Chinese elite are willing to pay up to 100 US dollars for a giant juicy Japanese apple (with a dragon design in the skin) then perhaps Estonian farmers could produce ‘boutique fruit’ or ’boutique vegetables’ too?

How about rare mini-cabbages or specially shaped chanterelle mushrooms?
What about organic pink carrots?
I don’t know, maybe I am crazy, but I bet there is a strong potential for farmers in Estonia to grow special herbs too.
Plus when I visit the central market in Tallinn I see all sorts of strange stuff from the woods.
Maybe some of this should be branded and exported.

And hey, what about the rare Estonian orchids: not only could they be grown and exported? but also they could attract speciality tourism too!

The fine restaurants of Europe, and Tallinn too, are quite prepared to pay premium prices for ‘unique products’.

So lets encourage Estonian Farmers (and perhaps families with their own bit of land) to resurrect those rare and dying varieties of Estonian fruit, vegetables and herbs and sell them to people with a taste for the exotic.

To find out more about how those clever Japanese farmers increased exports by 1000% in 3 years read this report from Anthony Faiola of the Washington Post Foreign Service.

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2 Responses to “Agricultural Export Marketing”

  1. Paul says:

    January 14th, 2006 at 4:48 pm

    Robin recently asked me to post something about defining ‘export’… Well, but since Robin is touching on something far more lovely than a definition of export about the Japanese language, I would just feel obliged to comment that for me as a native Estonian speaker (and a MA in linguistics) my own fennougric goes quite ok (or just poetic) with all that altaic link related belief, however, I would not put Japanese very easily in the altaic environment.

    But in fact I did not mean to say anything else except I recollect waking up one lovely morning in Japan some day in late August of 1992. It was mid-morning and I had a feeling that my family was somewhere nearby speaking Estonian in a way that could not be understood–as I heard them speak through a couple of very thin walls.

    When I was entirely up, I realised the soft melody could have provoked my sensation. I liked it, regardless of the fact that I would not believe much about that simple linking exercises between the Estonian and Japanese languages.

    Well, but besides, as an Estonian, I also liked the Japanese way of life in that part where I see coincidences that most probably crop up from something that one could call ‘natural farmers’ culture’. E.g. I enjoyed the respect for each person’s personal room and privacy. Like in Estonia–also in Japan–while making new friends, you never come too near another person. Not because you would be hesitant or cold–just on the contrary: you care for another person and you respect their personal room. So while making business contacts in Estonia for a longer success one should understand that all that typical Estonian silence and seemingly great distances between people come from an intrinsic need for private room. If this is understood, a bit later one would discover a closely linked society where everybody knows everybody–we are a bit bigger though than Iceland–we are around one million. Quite good number, would I think.

    But certainly the endeavour of linguistic comparison of anything that far from each other would take more effort than can ever be displayed in this blog here–regardless of whether we would eventually would arrive at establishing a link or two or no link at all.

  2. Henri says:

    February 8th, 2006 at 2:33 pm

    On the topic of language I would recommend
    the Estonian Language publication by the Estonian Institute
    whose online version is at:

    http://www.einst.ee/publications/language/

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