We traveled a lot this past week – Moyobamba, Rioja, Naranjillo, Lamas and San Jose de Sisa – all in two days to meet local farmers. It was great to meet
face-to-face with farmers that have benefitted from TechnoServe’s technical assistance.
In a cacao farm we tasted raw cacao - you only suck on the slimy, sweet substance that protects the cacao beans as the actual bean is very bitter. It
tastes very peculiar, a bit citrusy. We also tried several side-products that come from cacao, including a marmalade-like substance and homemade wine made
from the fermented ‘juice’ that comes from raw cacao.
We visited coffee farms, and witnessed firsthand what deforestation looks like. Farmers will grow coffee for only 6-8 years until they deplete the soil and
the coffee plant stops producing. They will then chop down adjacent forest land and start the cycle again. There are many side-effects that cause an
imbalance here, including potential mud slides and water being removed from the forest ‘system.’ We met a couple that recently received funding to tackle
this as a project, and are looking forward to learning more about it soon.
We also toured a coffee farm that is recovering from Roya Amarilla, a fungus that destroys the coffee plant. There is no quick solution for this plague,
other than using different variations of coffee plant and ensuring the plant is well fertilized. Even though these farmers need the most assistance,
especially financing, many lenders are hesitant to loan them money as their production is down significantly and there is no short-term solution.
We watched the US v. Peru soccer game last Friday at the house of a TNS staff member - it was great to get to know everyone outside of a work setting with
a more relaxed atmosphere, even though they were a bit disappointed with the outcome. We felt very welcomed here – it felt especially good to be in an
actual home, as we’ve been in hotel rooms for the past couple of weeks.
Tarapoto is a very small town with concentrated night life. The street where most people go out is one with several bars right next to each other, a couple
of blocks from the hotel. Although we’ve only been here for one week, it feels like we know the city quite well!