I arrived in Managua Sunday night at 7pm. Much to my surprise, it was already dark when I landed (apparently the sun sets around six) and I’ve always found it particularly disorienting to arrive in a new city at night.

Monday morning, Ryan, the Nicaragua country director at TechnoServe, brought Marzena and me to the headquarters – a wealthy estate turned office (see my photo of the view). There are over 100 employees, but the majority is in the fields on any given day. The grounds are beautiful and everyone we have met thus far has been nothing but gracious. After attending orientation, we were provided over 200 pages of reading. We will have two focuses over the next eight weeks – the market opportunity of specialty coffee here in Nicaragua and the certification of nurseries. Specialty coffee is the highest quality coffee and we will be working with both importers and exporters to identify potential bottle necks, competitors, and market conditions in order to build a sustainable and productive strategy. Coffee farmers who buy seeds from nurseries often run the risk of purchasing unproductive plants, or mislabeled varieties; without proper certification there is no way of knowing that a one year old plant could produce nothing in three years’ time. Creating these certifications will guarantee a healthy coffee plant. Though gathering the relevant data will be challenging and misleading, I am grateful for this opportunity and eager to start.

I have included a picture of one of the 134, 17-meter-tall “Trees of Life,” designed by the First Lady, Rosario Murillo. The President, Daniel Ortega, has re-written the constitution allowing himself him to run for his third successive term this November and he’s selected Rosario as his vice presidential candidate. I can’t get over the irony of these trees; building and installing them cost nearly $3 million, and then tack on an annual electric bill of $1 million. Meanwhile, Nicaragua is the second poorest country in the Western Hemisphere and 79% of the population lives off $2 per day.

The Volunteer

Tana Megalos

Associate-Internal Advisor Consultant, GWM

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