Following our final presentations to leading players in El Salvador’s coffee sector, Scott and I returned to TechnoServe’s office in Managua. We did a project debrief with regional director Ryan Bathrick, then finished our trip by visiting some farmers participating in the Nicaragua cacao project funded by the PIMCO Foundation.

It was a very touching experience.

About two hours out of Managua, on a rainy day in the jungle, we met with three different families. Each family relies on the productivity of their farms for their income.

But growing productive plants is not easy. In addition to hard work, it also requires science and technical expertise – two critical inputs that most uneducated farming families lack.

To address this, TechnoServe’s cacao project is designed to pair motivated families with agronomy training and seeds of higher quality genetic material so that they can sustainably improve their livelihoods.

Here is a picture of one of the TNS agronomists (in yellow) teaching the family how to prune a young cacao tree.

Touring their farms, it was easy to see they were now very well-constructed. The families were taught how to properly space and inter-mix their plants to balance nutritional needs, support insect biodiversity for pollination and create proper shade levels.

And the results have been measurable. Most cacao trees start producing in year four. Here we see one already yielding pods in year two.

It’s hard to convey just how grateful the families were. As representatives of the PIMCO Foundation, they thanked us repeatedly for enabling them to improve their lives. They were also appreciative that we cared enough to visit them in person.

Through the Emerging Enterprise Program, I’ve been able to see firsthand how the TechnoServe-PIMCO Foundation partnership is making a tremendously positive impact for the poor in developing countries. I am humbled to have been a part of it over the last two months and proud to have represented PIMCO abroad in this capacity.

The Volunteer

John Cavalieri

Executive Vice President, Product Manager

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