Agricultural Export MarketingFriday, 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
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.
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.
Guess which one has a tiny apple growing industry fighting against a huge, cheap neighbour.
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.