After a quick plane ride, Parker and I arrived in the small town of Tingo María, where we will be spending about four weeks as we work on the bulk of the data gathering for the project. Victor met Parker and me at the airport, having arrived late the night before, and took us directly to the office, where we got settled in and met the TechnoServe staff.

That first day we also jumped into the first meeting of the project, as Victor outlined our scope of work. We are going to be working on a continuation of last year’s project, as a small-scale version of the financing model proposed by the previous PIMCO volunteer consultants had been implemented following their presentation. Our job is to evaluate the practical implementation of that group’s financing model and look for any gaps in the model, or additional areas that remain to be addressed. We will be working closely with the cooperative that implemented the model, as well as the underlying farmers that they represent.

We spent the first week learning about the farming process and TechnoServe’s role, visiting several farms and getting a practical sense of what this all means. While Parker and I had both read about the process, it was eye-opening to see how the cacao farms operate in practice. Additionally, we got to see some of the experimental farms that TechnoServe operates to further improve farm efficiency, in this case testing out different methods of insect control.

Tingo María itself is a compact city of about 50k people. We’re staying in a little hotel right next to the city center, which is great as we are able to walk everywhere in the city, including the office. Parker and I quickly learned to keep our heads on a swivel, as pedestrians certainly don’t have right of way here, and crosswalks are non-existent. This weekend, one of the TechnoServe volunteers has offered to show us around to some of the waterfalls and caves nearby. I’m looking forward to exploring the city and area around Tingo María more!

The Volunteer

Eric Gross

Associate, Client Facing

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