We have been in Peru for three weeks and time is flying. Our project is progressing well. We have identified a few fertilizer distributors who are providing credit to coffee and cocoa farmers. We have also met with quite a few farmers, cooperatives, coffee/cocoa exporters and banks that are providing financing to local farmers. All those players will be crucial to identifying a sustainable financing mechanism for farmers.
On Friday we visited Orquidea, a chocolate factory in Tarapoto; the view of Rio Cumbaza was beautiful. We then went inside the factory building on a tour wearing white coats, disposable masks and shoe protectors. It was quite hot. It was a very good experience for us, as we were able to see how chocolate bars are made from cacao fruit. The chocolates were delicious.
Work conditions are tough here compared to London. The TechnoServe office does not have air conditioning and today it was about 35 degrees Celsuis with 85% humidity. This is the jungle and it is hot and humid, and there are mosquitoes around the office. The internet is not always working and sometimes, like today, you experience power failures and blackouts.
We have been really impressed by the people of Tarapoto. They are very interested in our project, want to help, and are dedicating a lot of time to supporting us.
We have also encountered quite a few scientists coming to Peru from around the globe to study butterflies, birds, and other parts of Tarapoto and the Blue Mountain National Park (Cordillera Azul National Park). It is the second largest National Park in Peru and plays host to an extraordinary variety of immense biological wealth including many waterfalls. It is estimated that thousands of rare species of plant, birds, mammals, amphibians and reptiles reside there.
On Tuesday, Nicole and I had a ceviche cooking class with Dolly, wife of a TechnoServe employee. The ingredients were the following: fish, lime, celery, onion, garlic and water. It was delicious!