This was a busy week in the field, as Parker and I met with a number of the farmers to get their thoughts on the financing process. First, we spoke with
several farmers who had received loans through TechnoServe’s pilot financing program, giving us a better understanding of the benefits and hassles of the
program in its current form. Then, later in the week, we spoke with other farmers who hadn’t taken out lines of credit to help us learn why certain farmers
may be getting left behind. The general theme is that interest rates are too high, and farmers are scared to potentially lose their house or farm, or risk
being able to pay for their children’s education by being late to pay back a loan.
To get both sides of the story, we met again with some of the existing financing entities, including representatives from Agrobanco, as well as with Alto
Huallaga, the cooperative that is running the pilot program, to further flesh out their motivations and draw on their experience working with farmers in
the area. We’re starting to get a good sense of the various parties here and their motivations! Parker and I are optimistic that we can propose some tweaks
to the current model to make the process easier for both the farmers and the financers.
Outside of the office, Parker and I continue to explore Tingo María and the surrounding area. After three weeks here, we’ve gained a good feel for the
variety of restaurants in town, and have been taking advantage of the amazing, and extremely cheap, fresh fruit juices that you can get at any restaurant
and many street stands. We were also lucky enough to be invited to a couple of family get-togethers this weekend, as our coworkers at the TechnoServe
office have embraced us into their community. Getting together with friends to have a barbecue seems to be universal.