Over the past week, we continued coordinating with key organizations in an attempt to obtain more data and schedule additional meetings. As most private banks have ceased lending to coffee farmers, we felt that it was important to meet with governmental agencies to see what options for financing are available to aid the recovery of the sector.

We had the chance to visit the US Embassy to meet with the USDA. It was very beneficial to hear an external perspective, and learn more about their presence in El Salvador. The USDA strives to help the country using both humanitarian and economic approaches. Since the arrival of leaf rust, coffee has become an important part of their agricultural programs in the region.

My key takeaway from meeting with the USDA is that although resources are limited, the real issue stems from the lack of coordination between NGO’s, governments (domestic and foreign), and coffee organizations. Without industry-wide goals and a well-defined strategy, aid and assistance in the sector will continue to be used ineffectively.

El Salvador’s high level of fragmentation has inhibited the coffee sector’s growth, and has made the country’s response to leaf rust untimely and insufficient. Neighboring countries such as Honduras and Guatemala have been more nimble in their response to issues, likely due to the highly centralized and consolidated structure of their industries. Case studies such as Colombia’s response to leaf rust have demonstrated that coordinated approaches involving many different types of organizations can have a lasting impact on the industry, and can help overcome significant barriers to productivity.

The Volunteer

Scott Argyres

Associate, FBG-Fund Statistics

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