We’ve now hit the midpoint of our EEP, so our focus has shifted from gathering information to distilling our views.
It’s hard to create a strategic plan for an entire industry, and in a foreign country, but that’s what we’re attempting to do. While still evolving, our
current recommendations are coalescing around the following three actionable items:
1)Genetic material – The coffee trees in El Salvador are very old. This means they are well past their peak producing years and more susceptible to sicknesses, like the
dangerous “leaf rust” fungus called La Roya (pictured below). To properly replant their fields, coffee farmers here need access to seeds of new coffee varieties that are resistant to La Roya, deliver a good yield (coffee per tree) and produce a high quality cup (flavor).
2)Access to capital
– This has been a major challenge in El Salvador. Banks are largely unwilling to lend to the sector given high volatility in coffee prices. However, farms
can’t be replanted and worked effectively without new capital. It’s a real “chicken and egg” problem, so we will look to be creative in identifying
potential sources and structures of funding in the weeks ahead.
3) Technical assistance
– The majority of coffee farms in El Salvador are small and owner-operated. Simply giving them new seeds and capital is not enough. They need to be taught
best practices for planting, fertilizing, pruning, etc.