This week I focused on putting together the presentation, having now absorbed considerable content from materials and in-field visits. The export composition evolves fairly quickly due to changes in demand for various types of cocoa and cocoa derivatives, changes in supply levels of various products from different countries, changes in production capacity, relative price level changes between types of exports and other factors. Within Peru, the value chain can be re-configured relatively quickly also. Increasing yields per hectare at a farm can increase production to levels, which may enable consolidation of segments of the value chain.

On Wednesday, I participated in a meeting with a group of associations and municipal representatives in a town called Saposoa. The goal of the meeting was to agree for this set of associations to combine resources for an upcoming harvest, and take steps forward along the value chain as described above. The meeting was very detailed, with multiple disparate views on whether this was a good idea, and whether it could be implemented. While the top-level objective seemed very clear, there was strong resistance and lengthy debate. Seeing this first hand helped me better understand why “ivory towers” concepts that may make perfect sense can be very difficult to implement in practice. The opposing views seemed to lack logic, but represented many voices who may have seen too many failed change attempts to be enthusiastic about new ideas.

In my free time, I’ve been able to go to the gym regularly, and picked up a cheap guitar from the music store around the corner to tinker with. Friday night was a big night here… Peru hosted Venezuela in a critical qualifying match for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. The whole country was excited, and Peru was in a desperate situation from some recent setbacks. Trailing 1-0 at halftime, but dominating the game in every other way, Peru finally broke through with a goal early in the second half and added another for the 2-1 win to stay alive for a spot in Brazil!

The Volunteer

Don Suskind

SVP, Head of ETF Product Management Newport Beach, California

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