I have an update. I’ve spoken with a couple reliable sources. The best one was a representative from Perry Exports. He explained that there before getting the HACCP certification (this is the one for FSMA) most people hire a consultant to help put together the following things:
- Food analysis from an third party lab in the USA (this gives you the nutritional info)
- Food safety plan in writing which outlines the exact way you process that one particular food product and the one particular facility where it is made. How you identify particular risks and mediate them. It also needs to include regular staff training.
- Food quality control plan in writing.
After all this is done, then you have to hire a company to come and do a physical visit for the official certification. There are no such companies with offices in Haiti. But SCS Global comes at least on an annual basis, and is the company Perry Exports uses. https://www.scsglobalservices.com/.
The initial certification is usually the toughest and most expensive. The price varies on the size of your operation. I was not able to get an estimate, but can easily imagine this is thousands of dollars. After that, an annual certification is required, which is usually easier and less expensive. I plan to write to SCS global and see if they will provide a ballpark estimate, so I can get a feel for what size operation is needed to be able to meet the recurring fees.
If this wasn’t a complicated enough process, if you wish to have a different food item, plan on repeating all the steps for it! Including an entirely new certification, which must be renewed annually. If you want to have 2 facilities manufacturing the same item, I believe they can be all certified with the same certificate, but a separate food safety and quality control plan is needed for each facility. Likely the price of the single certification goes up a bit, with multiple locations.
If you want organic or fair trade certification, they have a separate process. Organic is apparently by far the most expensive.
What I learned from all of this, is that there really needs to be a serious and committed team to run such a business. Most of the work appears to be upfront. My plan now is just to build and do some testing with the hybrid solar dryer. I think it will be tricky to produce a consistent product, but I think it is worth exploring. If successful, then I will look into this certification and export. My gut feeling is that the small community operation I am planning will not be big enough to support the complicated and expensive export process. Plus I’m really only interested in going through all this hassle, if I know it will help many of the people here.
I think this whole business could really succeed with a multi-community cooperative operation. If anyone reading this works closely with a Haitian community and is interested in forming a cooperative, please let me know. My time frame at this point is to have the solar dryer making some test product April or May 2019. I suppose 1-2 years after that, if things go well, it could be reasonable to be exporting. Even if this is not fair trade certified, it is important to me that the most of the income goes to the actual people doing the work. I feel that everyone should be valued more or less equal for their time and efforts. So the people doing the peeling and drying should get paid a similar amount as the ones doing administrative work (maybe even more! ).
By the way, although I am happy to help get this off the ground, I have no desire to be a business member myself. My goal is to hand over the operation, at least the part in Mirebalais, to the locals that have proven to be trustworthy after I can see they no longer need me.