Week 1 was spent in TechnoServe's office in Managua, Nicaragua. Scott and I had a few meetings with local coffee professionals to help us get up to speed,
and we did a lot of research on our own. The first meeting gave us an overview of coffee production in Central America overall. The second focused on
agronomical microfinance. The third was with an exporter who also helps run the "Cup of Excellence," an international coffee tasting competition used to
assess quality and final pricing.
All in all, it was a good way to lay a foundation for Week 2.
On Sunday evening, Scott, Ryan and I flew to El Salvador, which is the focus country of our project, to begin the next phase of data gathering, analysis
and testing our hypotheses.
Our time in the capital city San Salvador will be split between meeting with local coffee experts and doing additional research on our own. For example, on
our first day we met with the President of the Coffee Farmers Association of El Salvador to preliminarily discuss ways of mitigating the country's
production challenges. We also had a presentation on challenges faced by domestic coffee farmers and (very high level) potential solutions, delivered by a
local consultant at the El Salvador Chamber of Coffee.
Bottom line, we have our work cut out for us. The problems are severe and affect tens of thousands of people, but getting our hands on good data is
challenging. However, the people in both countries have been absolutely friendly, inviting, helpful and hopeful that we can help, after so many years (and
in the case of El Salvador, decades) of production declines in their coffee sector.