We’ve completed our first week in Tarapoto, and it’s been very busy! We’re getting up to speed on the local projects and diving further into understanding the local and global cocoa industries. On Wednesday, there was a planning offsite at a nearby hotel. Participants from several regional offices participated, as did TechnoServe’s COO from Washington, D.C., giving us more insight to the local objectives as well as the view of Peru from HQ. Friday morning we did a factory tour of a local chocolate manufacturer, Orqueida. Over the weekend, we attended several training sessions (Saturday with farmers on farming techniques and Sunday with a cooperative on the benefits and strategies of community organization). My project is focused on a ‘state of the industry’ analysis for Peruvian cocoa, and may evolve into a recommendation around the commercialization of a ‘fine cacao’ product. In the evenings, I’ve continued taking Spanish classes with a local instructor, and also joined some guys for pick-up soccer games. The ceviche is terrific, and the variety and freshness of the local fruit is amazing – it’s hard to beat a fresh coconut on a hot day!

The Volunteer

Don Suskind

SVP, Head of ETF Product Management Newport Beach, California

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