About Dinora's Loofitas
The loofah plant material (L. aegyptiaca) comes from the southern mountains of Honduras. They are grown on family farms in El Rodeito. Mayor Potencial strives to support the continuity of this local agri-business.
Meet Don Santos and Dinora
The family who grow and produce the loofah product in El Rodeito, Honduras, are Sr. Santos Flores Oyuela and his wife, Dinora Reyes. They have 3 children ages 8, 13 and 15. Don Santos, as he is commonly called, does the agricultural work with some help from his wife and children. Dinora Reyes does all the sewing for the product, and another 15-year-old girl, who has been trained to sew, steps in to help when there are large orders.
The Loofah business has helped Don Santos and his family to stay afloat as they deal with the ongoing drought in El Rodeito, providing them with an additional way to support their family.
The loofah products are often sold at a market in Tegucigalpa, but may also be sold on the streets in tourist areas and from door to door. There are several difficulties that this family faces when attempting to make their living by selling loofah. First, the market in Honduras is saturated with other similar vendors, which makes it difficult for this family to sell enough to feed the family. Second, because there has been a drought in the area, the crops have been producing a lower quantity of loofahs and not enough to sell in the market. To make up for this, Don Santos has had to purchase loofahs from another family, which costs him almost twice as much as it does for him to grow it on his own land. And, because the market is completely full of loofah vendors, Don Santos is not able to raise the prices to cover this extra cost. For this reason, Mayor Potencial decided to explore the United States market to see if there were expansion opportunities for Don Santos’ business.
The process of making the loofah product starts with the planting of the crops. It takes about 4 months to mature and produce the loofah vegetable (it is related to the cucumber). Once the loofahs are ready, they are picked and set to soak for eight days. After soaking, they are then peeled and the spongy skeleton is hung to dry completely, which takes about nine more days. After they are completely dried, they are then cut to the desired size and either sold as is, or flattened. Finally, Dinora sews cloth around the rims of the product, and they are ready to go!
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