Alain and I just wrapped up our first full week in Peru. We spent the last week in Lima, mostly researching the fertilizer industry and trying to create a strategy for how we want to approach this project. It is very difficult to create a solid plan when we still have so much to learn, so we are ready to be flexible and adjust as the project progresses.
We are only going to be in Lima for a short time, so we made sure to take advantage of the opportunity to get to know the city better. On Thursday, we went to a great restaurant called Rafael with Patricia from TechnoServe. The food was delicious and we were able to try Peru's famous Pisco Sour.
On Saturday we left Lima at 6:15am to go to Ica, which is about a 5-6 hour drive to the South, to meet with a fertilizer producer who shared some key details of his business with us. It was a very long drive, but we were able to make a few stops on the way back. First, we stopped briefly at a historic Pisco vineyard that was badly damaged during the 2007 earthquake. In addition to all of the old structures and vines, they also had a collection of whale bones. We also stopped for lunch in Huacachina, which is a small natural oasis surrounded by giant sand dunes. People were "snowboarding" down the dunes, and there were also a large number of dune buggies.
Victor, Country Director for TechnoServe Peru, and I left for Tarapoto on Sunday night. Alain stayed behind in Lima because TechnoServe was able to arrange a last minute meeting with representatives from a key fertilizer producer, Yara. Alain will meet up with us on Tuesday morning, and I am looking forward to hearing about what he was able to learn. Victor and I spent Monday meeting with a number of people. First, we had a "knowledge sharing" meeting with a representative from Swiss Contact to better understand the landscape in which we are operating and what financing mechanisms currently exist. Next, we met with two fertilizer distributors. We asked them questions about their pricing, as well as who they bought from and who they sell to. We were able to obtain good quantitative and qualitative information from them.
Tomorrow, Tuesday, we are waking up very early to drive to Moyobamba, which is northwest of Tarapoto in the San Martín region. We have been able to gain a lot of interesting information from the meetings we've conducted thus far, and I am looking forward to uncovering even more.